CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 33. . . .April 30, 2010.
Marsh Island. (Orca Echoes).
Sonya Spreen Bates. Illustrated by Kasia Charko.
Victoria, BC: Orca, 2009.
56 pp., pbk., $6.95.
Wilderness survival-Juvenile fiction.
Grades 2-3 / Ages 7-8.
Review by Tara Stieglitz.
A cold draft blew across the back of Jake’s neck. He swung around. Had something moved? He heard a scream.
Jake’s blood turned cold. He jumped up and dashed out the door. “Tommy!”
Tommy was nowhere in sight.
“Tommy!” Jake called again.
Jake shoved his way through the bushes and back to the pile of leaves he’d been sitting on before. He had told Tommy he wasn’t scared. He had yelled at him and called him a wuss. Well, he was scared now.
Although Jake is excited that his dad has taken him on his very first camping trip, he would be enjoying himself more without the presence of his whiny younger brother, Tommy. They are camping on Marsh Island, and Jake tells his brother the spooky story of old Alfred Marsh who supposedly vanished without a trace from the island. When the brothers find a buried treasure and then an old hut, they begin to wonder if that story could be true. The two brothers soon become victims of their own overactive imaginations, seeing a threatening Alfred Marsh at every turn. While initially resentful of his brother’s presence, Jake comes to appreciate his younger brother, and, by the end of the novel, the two brothers are united by their common adventure.
Marsh Island is fast-paced and highly enjoyable. The novel is full of suspense, and readers are kept on the edge of their seats to the end. The characters are well-developed, and the interaction between the two brothers, Jake and Tommy, is realistic and relatable for readers. Marsh Island relates a classic tale of buried treasure and mysterious ghosts from the past. This novel would be enjoyed by any child interested in mystery and fast-paced plotting. Marsh Island is a recommended purchase for public and school libraries.
Tara Stieglitz is a Master of Library and Information Studies student at the University of British Columbia.
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