Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Little Island - Big Adventures

Storyline:  Little Island - Big Adventures follows the exploits of Sara-Ann, a precocious twelve-year old. The novel is set on a rustic island (somewhere near the Grenadines) that is without electricity and other modern amenities. Not that you’ll notice, as Sara’s capers with her best friend Ruben will entice the reader.  Sara-Ann also experiences some anxiety about her impending separation from Ruben as she prepares to attend school on the mainland.

Players: Sara-Ann is one of four children whose father is the Head Master of the only school on the island. Although they live in a tiny community, there are quite a few colourful characters, including a ‘witch’ and Elsie, a snooty girl, whom Sara can’t stand.

I liked: The island flavor of the novel. There were so many things that were familiar. The fact that children in that time went barefooted, the freedom they had to rove the island, the omens that denoted bad things to come, like the eerie call of a mysterious bird and the significance attached to dreams.And for those who are not entirely familiar with 'things Caribbean', a glossary is included in the back of the book.

I could have lived without: the way in which the story was conveyed, at times. I found the register too high for a twelve-year-old, even one as intelligent as Sara-Ann. I would have thought her affected, but for the fact that her adventures painted her as a down-to-earth girl. To borrow a couple of lines…'…she screeched, sounding positively petrified.' And 'Not your ordinary, garden-variety type of terror; this was a delicious mix of excitement and anticipation,…'

A convincing voice is something I struggle with and have had to look at carefully in my YA (or should I say Middle Grade?) novels as my characters are also of above average intelligence. Still, this did not detract too much from the story.

Overall comments:  Little Island – Big Adventures was an engaging read. It’s always interesting to see how folks live in other Caribbean territories. What made this story different is that the family was not the usual people of African extraction. The closeness of Sara-Ann's family and the caring nature of the community made this a pleasant read. Also, the simple lifestyle captivated me, so too Sara-Ann and Ruben’s resourcefulness in their mischief-making. I’d recommend this book as good reading for children.

Rating: Four-and-a-half stars.


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