Doldrums ≠l boring


Archer Helmsley lives in a museum at 375 Willow Street. It is not a “real” museum. It is his grandparents’ house. They don’t live there, but the house is filled with treasures from all their adventures around the globe. 

Arthur loves these packages and despite his mother's wishes, wants to be an adventurer. Mrs. Helmsley (Archer’s mom) isn’t fond of the idea at all. The world is just too dangerous, so Mrs. Helmsley forbids Archer to do anything outside the house. 

Even though everyone else accepted the news that his grandparents perished on an iceberg in Antarctica, Arthur is convinced they are still alive. Since no one else will look for them, he will! With the help of his friends Oliver and Adelaide, Archer plans to rescue his grandparents. Will these three never-before-adventurers make it to Antarctica?

Parent Perspective:
I love this book! There is a magical quality about the story. There is a quirkiness that is endearing and enticing. This is a book to be read aloud, for sure!

Reading this is like coming home to very special friends. Mrs. Helmsley is a bit over the top; and Mr. Helmsley a bit aloof, so if you’re looking for “realistic” parents, you must go next door to the Glubs. Mrs. Murkley reminded me of Delores Umbridge from Harry Potter, though she seemed more child hater than a power-hungry woman like Delores.

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

Friendship and family take center stage in this story about a boy who has adventure in his genes! With this ensemble of engaging, quirky characters, there is great (if sometimes subtle) humor, too.

Content Awareness Factors:


Type of Book:
This is the first title in a middle-grade chapter series about three friends.
Educational Themes:

This is meant to read for fun, but the story makes it easy to engage your readers in the book. Relationships and friendship are central to the book. Even though Archer was restricted to the house, he found ways to spend time at Oliver’s. Should he have disobeyed his mother? Do you think Archer’s father knew what was happening?  What about Adelaide – should she have kept lying about why she has a wooden leg? How would you describe their friendships?

Although they were “absentee characters” Archer’s grandparents played a big role in the story. What kinds of things do your kids want to know about their grandparents? They probably don’t have a glass eyeball, but are there other things they treasure that have stories? What would they be willing to share?

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
10 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
8 and Up
Purchase Recommendation:
Definitely borrow. This is an excellent bedtime choice.

Title The Doldrums

The Doldrums, Book 1

Author Nick Gannon
Publisher Greenwillow Books, Imprint HarperCollins Publishers © 2015
Illustrators Nick Gannon
ISBN 9780062320940
Material Hard Cover
Cost $17.99
Genres Adventure, Family, Friendship, Humor
Reminder: Cover images, and links are affiliate links. The Reading Tub can earn income via purchases made via these links. 100% of any income goes directly to our literacy mission.
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