Fourth Grade Journey

A Fourth Grade Teacher's Journey Through the World of Books

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder

How I Heard About It:   This was a great "gift" from #NCTE16.  It was one of the ARC's that I brought home from Atlanta.  Once I had it home and shared it with my class, I began to see positive reviews on Twitter.  The book was in the hands of a reader and before my winter break I asked her if I could take it with me on my vacation.  It was the first book I read via the pool and beach in the Dominican Republic.  

What It Is About:  An island exists somewhere in the world that "holds" nine young children.  Only nine can live here and once a year one of the "residents"  must leave the island when a new child arrives via a boat.  Life has been like this for a long as anyone can remember and this life has provided an almost perfect existence for these nine inhabitants.  During the latest "Changing" Jinny must say goodbye to the eldest member Deen as he boards the small boat to depart while the newest member of the community joins the island.  Her name is Ess and she is about to change Jinny in ways she never imagined.  Jinny becomes the newest Elder, must "train" Ess with the ways of the island, and make sure she is safe.  It is a turbulent year for Jinny, Ess, and the other seven islanders; but nothing prepares them for the day when Jinny is suppose to leave the island while welcoming a new young one.  Her decision will not only change her life, but everyone who lives on this island for "orphans".  

What I Thought Of It:  I really lucked out with two of the books I brought with me on vacation.  This was one of the best middle-grade novels I've recently read.  Once I started reading, I couldn't stop.  I was fascinated by the concept of the story and had so many questions as I read.  Whenever I found myself reading too quickly, I had to slow down to take it all in.  There were moments when my heart actually hurt when Jinny was faced with such difficult life decisions.  It was like they were real people and I was right there with them on the island.  When a writer can accomplish this; that is a definite sign of solid and wonderful writing.  I've just recently sent the book to a Twitter friend and have a feeling when the book is returned; I will read it again.  

Who Should Read It:  If I have time this year, I may use this as a read aloud in my fourth-grade classroom.  It would make for an excellent read aloud in grades four, five, and/or six.  When the book comes out and you put it in the hands of an individual reader, they should be in graders five, six, or middle-school.  Of course adult readers who read middle-grade novels, will definitely want to read this.  It will NOT disappoint.  Happy Reading!!!  

Rating:  5 STARS out of 5 Stars

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