TREE CASTLE ISLAND by Jean Craighead George

TREE CASTLE ISLAND

Age Range: 10 - 12

KIRKUS REVIEW

Fourteen-year-old Jack has built his own canoe, and on a hot August dawn, he sets off for her maiden voyage in his beloved Okefenokee Swamp. Jack’s a lot like Sam of the author’s My Side of the Mountain (1959): at home in his environment and able to fend for himself. He intends to stay for only a little while, but is drawn into an adventure that changes his life. The first three days are idyllic, and George brings the swamp to life with sweeping descriptions of the waters, birds, and plants of the region. Then Jack discovers he can’t get back to his home because of a blockage on the river. He spots an island and heads for it, but just as he begins to land, an alligator attacks the canoe, rips a great gash, and charges him. Nimbly, he pole-vaults with his paddle onto land and is able to drag the canoe to safety. With only a machete and a Leatherman knife, he sets out to create a campsite, build a tree house of sorts for sleeping, and figure a way to repair the canoe. An Airedale wanders in and, to his surprise, answers to his own dog’s name, Dizzy. A few days later, he returns to his campsite to find a boy who looks exactly like him. He has come, he says, for his dog. His voice has a soft Georgia twang to it, but, other than that, the two boys are identical. Jake Leed is adopted and asks Jack if he is too, but Jack vehemently denies it. In the next few days, along with multiple adventures, Jack faces the fact that he and Jake are identical twins. He’s never known he’s adopted and doesn’t want to confront his parents with his news, but Jake decides they will face both parents together. The ending is a pleasant and satisfying surprise. Though the story has many subplots, the star is the swamp itself, and this naturalist deftly keeps its life in focus as she weaves her tale. The ink sketches of flowers and scenery are an attractive addition. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: May 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-06-000254-9
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2002




JEAN CRAIGHEAD GEORGE, 1919-2012:

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