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Month in review

Reviews
Beast & Crown by Joel Ross
Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk
Boundless by Jillian Tamaki
Carrying Albert Home by Homer Hickam
CatStronauts: Space Station Situation by Drew Brockington
Demon, Volume 4 by Jason Shiga
Feathertop by Robert D. San Souci
14 Hollow Road by Jenn Bishop
From Ant to Eagle by Alex Lyttle
The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match by Elizabeth Eulberg
Hear the Wolves by Victoria Scott
Lights, Camera, Middle School! by Jennifer L. Holm
The Looney Experiment by Luke Reynolds
The Losers Club by Andrew Clements
The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar
Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess by Shari Green
Murder on the Half Shelf by Lorna Barrett
One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes
One Mixed-Up Night by Catherine Newman
Ordinary Mishaps and Inevitable Catastrophes by Booki Vivat
Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder
Paper Girls Volume 3 by Brian K. Vaughan
Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson
Red Leech by Andrew Lane
Refugee by Alan Gratz
Ripped From the Pages by Kate Carlisle
The Scarebird by Sid Fleischman and Peter Sís
See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng
Walking with Miss Millie by Tamara Bundy
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Portfolio 25 by Rosamund Kidman Cox

Miscellaneous
2017 books read and reviewed
Back Half round-up: Favorite books read and reviewed from July-December 2017 Canadian Books reviewed in 2017
Diverse Books Reviewed in 2017
First Book of the Year Graphic Novels Reviewed in 2017
It's Monday, What Are You Reading (December 04)
It's Monday, What Are You Reading (December 11)
It's Monday, What Are You Reading (December 18)
It's Monday, What Are You Reading (December 25)
Mysteries reviewed in 2017
Road Narrative Summary
November 2017 sources
November 2017 summary

Previous month

Rating System

5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish


Orphan Island: 12/15/17

Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder

Laurel Snyder explains in the afterword of Orphan Island that she spent her time taking long baths dreaming about orphans on island. With that in mind, one shouldn't expect a logical, behind the curtain reveal of who is behind the boats that bring and take children to an island.

The book opens with Jinny becoming the newest elder, as her friend and mentor, Deen is taken away on the boat. Replacing him is a young girl — maybe three or four years old — who calls herself Ess.

Ess as the newest arrival is the living link to whatever the children leave behind when they come to the island. She remembers her mother. She is not — or was not until recently — an orphan. Ess resists assimilation into the island culture and every reason, albeit in little kid English, she gives, further compels Jinny to question how the island works.

The wherefore of the island is up to reader interpretation. There are clues of course: the dancing shapes, the limit on there being nine and only nine children at a time, the fact that the weather never changes and the island seems able to provide the food and shelter everyone needs. But there is also a crumbling library with books that only last so long. The island doesn't seem to provide new reading material or another clues about life outside the island.

To test the rules of the island, Jinny decides to stay even when a new child arrives after Ess. The sky doesn't fall exactly but things do change. The weather gets wacky. The island seems to struggle. Jinny hits puberty and doesn't know why she's bleeding.

While the title of the book is Orphan Island the promise of orphan magic is more ephemeral here. Clearly the island isn't natural. It could be artificial. It could be magic. From the limited knowledge we're giving — namely roughly nine years of rotation experience as children age and age out, and the new notes from the first children, there is no way of knowing the origin of the island. In this case, advanced technology might as well be magic.

Reading Orphan Island left me unsatisfied because we never get to see what Jinny sees once she finally decides to leave the island. Imagine if you will that Dorothy Gale had gone to Oz, done the Wizard's errands and been sent home without ever looking behind the curtain. Oz would have been a very different place, and probably a dead-end one.

Five stars

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