The Fort

the fort gordon korman

The Fort

If you've read a Gordon Korman book or two, or three.... you have a feel for his stories.  ZOOBREAK and all the books in the series, or RESTART or SCHOOLED have all given the chance to spend some time with some great kids who often are working together to make something right.  There's some great humor along the way.

THE FORT starts out in quintessential Kormanesque style.  (Gordon Korman deserves his own word.)  You begin to get to know the guys.  There's Mitchell with his OCD problem and his mom who has to work three jobs to make ends meet.  There's Jason whose parents are in the middle of a fury of a divorce.  Evan lives with his older brother and his grandparents.  C.J. lives with his mom and stepfather, a man who will buy C.J. the best of everything at the drop of a hat.  The last guy to join this group is Ricky who recently  transferred to their school from a magnet school.  He's the smart guy.  So there's the line where is Gordon Korman going to take us this time?

Let's just say that for this, his 100th book, Gordon Korman has a surprise for us.  These five guys aren't living the "normal" life of suburbia - or are they?  These guys have secrets.  These guys are about to find out just how deep their friendship runs - how much they can be their real selves and count on the other guys to get it, to get them, to have each other's backs.

Luckily for all five guys they have discovered a fort.  A real live fort with all the trimmings a guy could want. It's amazing and it's a great place to hide.

So, I'll leave you there - see what you would do if your friends shared their real selves with you... told you their secrets.  Don't forget to have each others backs.

256 pages 978-1338629149 Ages 9-13

Keywords: boys and men, friends, friendship, getting along, child abuse, secrets, domestic violence, divorce, finding your voice, OCD, 9 year old, 10 year old, 11 year old, 12 year old, 13 year old

Recommended by:  Barb Langridge,


From the bestselling author of RESTART, the story of a middle-school "band of brothers" -- five friends who need to stick together after they set up a hideout in an abandoned bomb shelter and discover that the only way to be true friends is to reveal their secrets and help each other out.

The morning after Hurricane Leo rips through the town of Canaan, residents awaken to widespread destruction -- power outages, downed branches, uprooted trees, broken windows and damaged roofs. Four eighth-grade friends -- Evan, Jason, Mitchell, and CJ -- meet to explore the devastation. The tight-knit group is dismayed to find that Evan has brought along a stray -- Ricky, who is new to their town and school, and doesn’t have any friends yet.

Ricky is the one to find the strange trap door that’s appeared in the middle of the woods -- the door to an old bomb shelter, unearthed by the hurricane. Inside, the boys find a completely intact underground lair, complete with electricity, food, and entertainment (in the form of videocassettes). The boys vow to keep the place’s existence to themselves.

Things soon get tense. Some bad locals keep snooping around. And what started out as a fun place to escape soon becomes a serious refuge for one of the kids who is trying to avoid an abusive home situation. In order to save the shelter, the friends must keep its secret... and in order to save themselves, they’re going to have to share their individual secrets, and build the safest place they can.---from the publisher


Richie’s Picks: THE FORT by Gordon Korman, Scholastic Press, June 2022, 256p., ISBN: 978-1-338-62914-9

“Yes we're gonna have a wingding

A summer smoker underground

It's just a dugout that my dad built

In case the Reds decide to push the button down”

– Donald Fagan, “New Frontier” (1982)

“It has been a long time since the threat of using nuclear weapons has been brandished so openly by a world leader, but Vladimir Putin has just done it, warning in a speech that he has the weapons available if anyone dares to use military means to try to stop Russia’s takeover of Ukraine.

The threat may have been empty, a mere baring of fangs by the Russian president, but it was noticed. It kindled visions of a nightmarish outcome in which Putin’s ambitions in Ukraine could lead to a nuclear war through accident or miscalculation.

‘As for military affairs, even after the dissolution of the USSR and losing a considerable part of its capabilities, today’s Russia remains one of the most powerful nuclear states,’ Putin said.”

– John Daniszewski, Associated Press (2/25/2022)

I would prefer that Gordon Korman’s latest engaging tale didn’t dovetail so readily with current world events. The fear of nuclear war, which had subsided after the drop-and-cover school drills many of us experienced in the early 1960s, has once again raised its ugly head.

But such worries are not part of THE FORT, a contemporary story told from multiple points of view, involving four male middle school buddies and the new kid in town. Together, they accidentally discover the “fort”: an underground bomb shelter in the woods, constructed decades ago by a well-known, wealthy, and now-deceased member of the community.

It’ll be a challenge to keep the fort’s existence a secret from siblings, girlfriends, and parents. But the friends are each facing challenges at home or school, or both, and their homey, well-stocked, new home-away-from-home will turn out to be a godsend for several of them.

Jason Brax:

“By this time, we’re starting to get hungry, which opens us a pretty major debate. There’s tons of food in the fort. The problem is it’s been here for at least forty years. Is it safe to eat?

Out come our phones for some serious web surfing. Not Mitchell, of course–his Samsung is out of commission until he can get the screen repaired. We all ask the same question and get four different answers, ranging from ‘totally safe’ to ‘prepare to die.’

We google around a little longer until a point of agreement starts to emerge from all the articles we find: Basically, canned food is safe forever–with a single warning. The can has to be in perfect condition. The slightest hole, the slightest bulge in the tin or breakage of the vacuum seal, and you might as well be eating cyanide.

Well, that’s the last thing you should ever say to a guy like Mitchell. He starts grabbing cans and examining them at such close range that it looks like he’s trying to penetrate them with his eyeballs. If there was an electron microscope in the fort, he would use that too.

C.J. pulls a tin of ravioli right out of Mitchell’s hand and tosses it in the air experimentally. ‘Looks okay to me.’ He plunges a can opener into it and turns the crank until the lid pops free. Then he plucks out a square of pasta and tosses it in his mouth.

We all stare at C.J. like we’re expecting him to explode.

He chews thoughtfully. ‘Not bad.’

‘How long is it going to take him to die?’ Mitchell asks the rest of us.

In answer, C.J. gulps down two more pieces.”

THE FORT delves into the lives of these lifelong buddies, and the new guy who is primarily responsible for discovering the bomb shelter. It will send some young readers off to check out Jaws and the other old movies on VCR that the friends find there. Plenty of readers will imagine finding or creating their own secret hideaway.

Gordon Korman takes up a couple of serious, tangentially related issues that I’ll let you discover on your own. I’m excited about the prospect of third- through eighth graders reading this very-believable story.

Recommended by:  Richie Partington, MLIS California USA

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