3.33 (371 ratings by Goodreads)
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Medford lives on a neat, orderly island called--simply--Island. Islanders like names that say exactly what a thing (or a person) is or does. Nothing less. Islanders like things (and people) to do what their names say they will. Nothing more. In fact, everything on Island is named for its purpose, even the people who inhabit it. But Medford Runyuin is different. A foundling, he has a meaningless last name that is just one of many reminders that he's an outsider. And, to make matters worse, Medford's been keeping a big secret, one that could get him banished from Island forever. When the smelliest, strangest, unruliest creature Island has ever seen comes barreling right into his rigid world, Medford can't help but start to question the rules he's been trying to follow his entire life. A whimsical fantasy debut about belonging, the dangers of forgetting history, and the Usefulness of art, The Unnameables is one of the funniest stories of friendship you'll ever read, with a cast of characters you'll never forget.
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Product details

  • 0-5
  • Hardback | 318 pages
  • 148.84 x 210.31 x 25.65mm | 444.52g
  • Harcourt Children's Books
  • Boston, United States
  • English
  • Parental Adviso.
  • Maps
  • 0152063684
  • 9780152063689

Review quote

"Booraem's debut is an ever-surprising, genre-defying page-turner. Realistic characters deal with philosophical problems in vivid, flowing prose that is evocative and often funny. A sort of combination of witch-trial-era Salem and The Giver, this book offers a treat with nearly every page turn." Kirkus Reviews, starred review (9/01/08)-- (09/01/2008) "The novel's humor and amiable tone make it a highly-accessible but thought-provoking read."--The Horn Book Magazine

"Avid readers in middle school and high school will enjoy a tale that combines magic with an almost puritanical culture."--VOYA (5Q4P)
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About Ellen Booraem

ELLEN BOORAEM was an award-winning journalist for numerous Maine newspapers for thirty years until she decided to devote her time to her writing. She lives in Brooklin, Maine, where in addition to fiction writer, she is a mentor, writing coach, and substitute teacher. She is also a founding director of the Brooklin Youth Corps, a summertime self-esteem program for teenagers. The Unnameables is her first children's novel.
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Rating details

371 ratings
3.33 out of 5 stars
5 14% (53)
4 32% (118)
3 33% (121)
2 16% (60)
1 5% (19)

Our customer reviews

On the Island, everything has a name and a place, and if it doesn\'t, it should. Those things that don\'t fit into a category, that don\'t have a purpose, are the Unnameables, and are, by definition, suspect. Medford Runyuin is dangerously close to being an Unnameable himself. While his fellow Islanders have practical names like Learned and Tanner, which correspond to their professions, his name means nothing at all. He is a foundling, washed ashore in infancy alongside his dead parents. Medford has always been different. Though his foster father is a carpenter, and he has learned to create Named objects that serve a purpose, he also has a secret. While in the privacy of his workshop, he has carved Useless things, things that serve no purpose, and this is an offense that could result in banishment. It takes the arrival of a mysterious stranger to the Island to make Medford realize that not all is as it seems on the stodgy Name-heavy Island - and that he is not the only one with secrets and hidden discontent. Ellen Booraem presents a gem of a tale in THE UNNAMEABLES. The characters are genuine and heartfelt, and the story trips along in a delightful and thought-provoking way. While the book certainly carries a message, it is presented in a lighthearted manner, combining seriousness and humor as it progresses onward. Readers who enjoyed tales like THE GIVER will fall in love with THE UNNAMEABLES. *Gold Star Award Winner!show more
by TeensReadToo
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