THE TRAP by Steven Arntson – BOOK REVIEW


Author: Steven Arntson

Type of Book: Paperback ARC

Target Readership: Middle Grade Ages 9-12

Publication Date: April 7,2015

Length: 246 pages

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

* I received a free ARC (Advance Reader Copy) of this book through the Goodreads Giveaway program.

Set in the small town of Farro, Iowa in the summer of 1963. Henry Nilsson is just starting seventh grade.

Henry is best friends with Alan, but Alan’s older brother, Clay is the town bully. When Clay goes missing the day after Henry finds a box of books at his hidden campsite, people start to worry.

In the box Henry finds a strange old book that is a guide to learning the art of ‘subtle travel’. Henry is puzzled, but intrigued.

It turns out that ‘subtle travel’ is a kind of out-of-body experience.

When Carl goes missing, Henry, his twin sister Helen and two of their friends embark on a quest to find him. They find danger and adventure and experience more than they could have ever imagined.

This book is a great read for kids in middle grades. It does contain some ideas that might be a bit advanced for the target readership, but the author does a good job of explaining these concepts.

The pace is relentless and the action is constant and unrelenting. This book is fun and exciting and the characters come across as realistic and relatable. Henry and his friends are ordinary kids thrown into an extraordinary adventure.


This is a book that explores a time of turbulence in U.S. and world history. Although THE TRAP is a work of fiction it introduces readers to important historical events that every generation should learn about. I recommend that parents also read this book so that they are able to use it as a way to open the lines of communication between their child and themselves. This book offers a chance to instill in the young reader a sense of how history has affected their lives in the present day. It also offers parents a chance to remind their children that it does not matter what color or religion someone is, or what ethnic group they belong to, that we are all just people and that we have more in common then we have differences.

Don’t misunderstand me. This book is also a great story and readers will be riveted to the pages to find out what happens next to Henry and his friends. It does not have to be a learning tool, that is just an added bonus.


I rate this book as 4 out of 5 stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Image obtained from

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Steven Arntson is a writer, musician, and artist, author of the books The Wrap-Up List (Houghton Mifflin, 2013), The Wikkeling (Running Press, 2012) and The Trap (Houghton Mifflin, 2015).

He taught English and creative writing for ten years at a local art college before switching to writing full time. He lives in Seattle with his wife, the musician Anne Mathews.

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