Chapter Book: Surprise Island Part 2

Final Review: 2 out of 5 stars (the kids liked it more than I did)

I sort of hated this book. I tried to like it. Other people like the Boxcar Children. I liked the first book.

But this one just went on and on at a snail’s pace with tiny words, boring sentences, no depth or realism to the characters, random stories (a little boy drowning! Rescue him! Now, let’s
play catch!), and odd bits of information that held no relevance to the plot (Make a pie by adding the sugar at the end!).

We had to keep reading it because it’s way overdue at the library and we can’t NOT finish a book, but oh my. And the characters, plot, and situation are totally
unbelievable, even for a children’s book. Charlotte’s Web was about a talking pig and spider, and I totally believed it, you know? The characters rang true, I was in that story world. This one, nope.

I kept feeling like the author was just telling me random information. Even simple words can be deep, beautiful, and meaningful, as evidenced by the brilliant Arnold Lobel. I just felt like this author was not a good writer. She had some good ideas, and the independence of the children appeals to child readers I guess, but the ideas weren’t worked into a story in any cohesive way. I wanted to gouge my eyes out and skip over as much as I could without my kids noticing.

I think I’ll let my kids read the rest of the series on their own. Maybe this was enough to interest them, and the books are clean, sweet little books for kids (other than the whole living on an island all by themselves surrounded by strange grown men issue), but I don’t think I can stomach another one.

There have to be well-written books for kids at this level. Where are they? I’m going to try some in that list recommended by the commenter on this post.

We’ll see.

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