Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers.
Today, we're joining a Walden Pond Press blog tour already in progress starring the latest from author Laurel Snyder. Technically, it's a PRE-PUB party, as the actual release date is set for 05/30/17 (as of this post), but that doesn't make it any LESS jolly; in fact, it cranks up the excitement factor just a few notches more! So, without further ado, let's welcome today's blog tour guest and book of choice...
Walden Pond Press
About the book...
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?
The adventure is brilliant...
Think Lord of the Flies, but toned down to fit the Middle Grade genre. We have an island of children, nine to be precise, all supposed orphans, or at least currently being raised without parental assistance. So, if there are no parents, you might be wondering a few things. Who guides them, nurtures them, feeds them, and makes sure they learn what needs to be learned? They do, or rather the other children that have comes before them, as well as the island itself. Curious, right? Oh, you've no idea. It's a rather emotionally charged moment, the entrance and the exit of a new soul among them. From the moment the newest Elder takes on the Care (newly arrived child) to when the former Elder leaves for who-knows-where in the boat with a mind of its own. You get hints of the bigger questions lurking about as the tale moves forward, but, if you're at all like me, you'll be caught by surprise when the finale comes to pass.
The characters are memorable...
Whether human or island born, they create a memorable storyboard in the mind. On the human side of things, the one we get to know the most is Jinny. She's the new Elder but that doesn't mean she knows everything...in fact, it's much the opposite the she is finding out. She questions everything, is unsure of the simplest things, and is unable to find her own voice half the time. Guess what? It's called growing up and while hard on us all, it's still something that has to be done. She makes the best of it, acts out when it gets too much, accepts some help from those around her, and despite making a mess of things, her good intentions and gentle heart win out in the end. On the animal/mineral side of the coin, the island itself is a character too. From the unusual calmness that emanates from normally fickle creatures to the protective winds and mists that seem to blanket their precious island from would be prying eyes, it's a world of both harshness and wonder with a beauty all its own.
The ending is curious...
Okay, so I have a little more insight as to the "why's" and "how's" after having read the education guide available for the book (thanks Debbie!), but at face value, I'm not certain the target audience is going to really see beyond the adventure in front of them. After I finished reading, I even had to take a few steps back to reconsider everything I'd read and reevaluate the overall meaning. It's definitely a "big picture" message...cherish childhood days because the great unknown is coming...but at the same time, I think it's meant to reassure that while yes, it IS unknown, you've been preparing your whole life for it whether you know it or not.
All things considered, it's a wonderful story capturing the wildly sweet freedom that is imbued in our younger days while adding a mysterious luster to the teen-dom years ahead.
About the author...
Laurel Snyder is a poet, essayist, and author of picture books and novels for children, including Orphan Island, Charlie and Mouse, Bigger than a Bread Box, and Swan, the Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova. She is also a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and a faculty member of Hamline University's MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She lives in Atlanta with her family and can be found online at www.laurelsnyder.com.
Until next time, remember...if it looks good, READ IT!