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Baby Island: 04/19/07

Baby Island

I picked this book up from the Dublin library discard shelf around the time that Harriet was a newborn. Feeling a little overwhelmed by how much attention and care she needed those first couple months, I picked up the book. It had an absurd title and was short enough to finish quickly. From the cover art, I was under the impression that Baby Island was written in the 1960s or early 1970s. Actually though it was first published in 1937.

Mary and Jean on a ship bound for Australia where their father has relocated for work. They have befriended the parents of the youngest passengers and have been the on-board baby sitters. In the middle of a huge storm, they end up on a lifeboat with four babies: the toddling twins Elijah (Blue) and Elisha (Pink), Ann Elizabeth (age 1) and Jonah (age 4 months).

The story is a classic desert island / shipwreck adventure akin to the first half of Robinson Crusoe or the horrible Swiss Family Robinson except from the perspective of a group of children. While the necessities of food and water are covered in the plot, along with the need for a safe and dry shelter away from the tide, nothing is mentioned about the infants numerous diaper changes. There is some hinting at the problem with the many times Mary and Jean are washing Pink and Blue's outfits but it's done in such a saccharine way that being stuck on an island with a handful of young children and limited supplies seems like such a magical adventure.

After the initial at sea disaster where the children were genuinely scared and aware of how much danger they were in, the book began to bore me. Mary and Jean are so busy having fun that they never stop to think of the ramifications of their situation. Nor do they seem to care for the children beyond seeing them as cute (and hungry) play things.

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