FRIDAY BOOK SHARING!
Somehow, before even finishing this book, it was already on my potential Newbery list, because WOW. So much depth. Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder will hold you in suspense, you might even find yourself holding your breath while you read. The premise is unusual – a mysterious, beautiful, magical, idyllic island where 9 children live by themselves. Each year, a Changing occurs when a boat appears with a new young child and the oldest (“Elder”) child gets into the boat and leaves. The story opens with a Changing, and Jinny is now the Elder who has charge of the newest arrival, a young girl named Ess. She has one year to teach Ess everything she needs to know on the island, how to swim, read, get food, stay safe – all about survival. But Jinny wonders beyond the approaching Changing when she will climb into the boat and wave good-bye to all that she knows in the world. What awaits her? Does she have to leave? What will happen to her? “Somewhere out there, beyond the boat, was more. Jinny couldn’t see it yet, but it had to be there.” This is a story of survival, where children are in charge and are independent, without the aid of grownups, definitely appealing to kids. But it’s also a story that asks big questions about growing up, letting go, family and siblings, childhood, and that amazing journey toward adulthood. So much to love in this book – the character are complex and fascinating, the writing is captivating, and the magical story will keep you in suspense. I won’t be surprised at all to see this book on the best books of the year come December.