Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Orphan Island

Thank you to Walden Pond Press
for sending me a copy of this book to review 
and for providing a copy of the book 
for me to giveaway! (Details below!)

Title: Orphan Island  
Author: Laurel Snyder 
Publisher: Walden Pond Press 
Publication Date: May 30th, 2017 
Genre/Format: Fiction/Novel 
GoodReads Summary: From acclaimed author Laurel Snyder comes a deep, compelling, heartbreaking, and completely one-of-a-kind novel about nine children who live on a mysterious island.

On the island, everything is perfect. The sun rises in a sky filled with dancing shapes; the wind, water, and trees shelter and protect those who live there; when the nine children go to sleep in their cabins, it is with full stomachs and joy in their hearts. And only one thing ever changes: on that day, each year, when a boat appears from the mist upon the ocean carrying one young child to join them—and taking the eldest one away, never to be seen again.
Today’s Changing is no different. The boat arrives, taking away Jinny’s best friend, Deen, replacing him with a new little girl named Ess, and leaving Jinny as the new Elder. Jinny knows her responsibility now—to teach Ess everything she needs to know about the island, to keep things as they’ve always been. But will she be ready for the inevitable day when the boat will come back—and take her away forever from the only home she’s known? 
What I Think: If there was ever a book to judge by its over, this would be it. The cover is absolutely gorgeous for an absolutely gorgeous book. I was completely lost in the story and entranced by Jinny and her thoughts as she works to piece together her story on the island and snippets of memories to come up with what comes next. Jinny is so brave and I loved her more and more with every page. But that made the end that much harder. Aren't all endings hard?   
     I left the book thinking about what comes next for Jinny and knowing that so much us unknown but being okay with that. Isn't that how life goes? I mostly feel like I'm playing catch with one of those water snake toys. I'm trying to have fun and go with the flow but at the same time I'm trying desperately to hang onto time that just refuses to stop wiggling or to be captured all while I'm also worried that I'm going to pop it and I'll be drenched and the game will be ruined. Laurel helped me feel like I'm not alone in feeling this way. 
     In looking at Orphan Island as a mentor text, I fell in love with Jinny as much as I fell in love with the island because of Laurel's description. Some books that came to mind as I was reading were Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, The Wild Robot, The Giver, Island of the Blue Dolphins, And Then There Were None and I even thought of the TV show Lost. In each of these, the setting plays such a large role, it's a character in and of itself. And the protagonist has to interact with and act upon the setting as part of moving the story forward. It's neat to think of how the island itself has memories and holds so much knowledge about Jinny and her story but at the same time, it can only tell her much. 
     As a mentor text, I would definitely have writers look at Laurel's description and think about how she connects the description to the setting but also to the character. Ask writers to look at how it's possible to use a description of the setting to describe what a character is feeling. This is an opportunity to look at mood and how a writer can elicit an emotion from a reader using show don't tell. Have writers think about how the setting impacts the mood and spend time describing the setting in order to show how the character is feeling without ever directly telling the reader what emotion is at play. 
Snatch of Text: 
     "Jinny watched the boat disappear. Until all she could see was water and distance. It happened so fast. She found herself standing, reaching out both arms, in the direction the boat had gone. Both hands were outstretched fingers, grasping. As if there was something in the air she might be able to clutch."

     "They sat together. Two sad shapes in the sand. Watching the day sink behind the cloudy sea. The oranges and pinks of the bleeding sunset made their usual swirling patterns above the mist, looping and arching. Tonight the shapes looked like dolphins. Or maybe just waves, calm soft waves. The new girl stared up, her mouth open slightly, saying nothing as she watched the sky shift and dance, a wash of shapes and colors."
Writing Prompt: Write about a time when you took a risk. How did you feel about the unknown-ness of taking a risk? And how can you compare your experience with Jinny's experiences on the island?
Additional Resources: Visit the Harper Collins page for a Teacher's Guide and Reading Guide.


Be sure to visit other stops on the Orphan Island blog tour!
May 15 - Laura Given
May 16 - Pernille Ripp
May 18 - Novel Novice
May 20 - Book Monsters
May 21 - Maria's Melange
May 24 - Nerdy Book Club
May 26 - Kirby Larson


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