The Unnameables

The UnnameablesAuthor: Ellen Booraem
Reading Level: 4th to 6th

Pages: 318
Publisher: Harcourt
Edition: Hardcover, 2008

This is an allegory that works on many levels, made rich with well-portrayed and multi-faceted characters. Which, I guess, renders it not a true allegory since the characters are not all confined to single traits or symbolic equivalents. At the very beginning, I was dubious: thinking that the symbolism and “names” are all too transparent and too easy to predict. And yet, with the blusterous arrival of the Goatman and then all the tangential but significant side trails and events, the story drew me in and kept me highly interested and entertained. I bated my breath, hoping for a satisfying and well paced ending, and was not let down.

I very much appreciate the rich imagery, the successful world-building, and the economy of the text — also its gentle humor in the friendly way these simple folks behave. I’m also so pleased that the Unnameable acts (what one might easily interpret as “art” or “craft”) are given a made-up name of “runyuin” (which has the word “ruin” embedded — I wonder if this is even intentional) so that the interpretations can be surprising from minds not as set as mine. I can see how this book might be of great use in a 4th-6th grade classroom since it is both well-crafted and can generate good conversations!

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