Read Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder Online


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 carryingOn 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?...

Title : Orphan Island
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780062443410
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 288 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Orphan Island Reviews

  • Rick Riordan
    2019-04-20 10:56

    This is one of those books that haunts you long after you read it. The premise is simple enough: A mysterious island with exactly nine inhabitants, all children. Every year or so, a self-piloting boat appears out of the strange fog that encircles the island. The boat drops off a new young child — so young he/she only has the vaguest idea of where he/she comes from — and the oldest child in the group gets in the boat and sails away forever, going to . . . whatever is beyond the mist. The second-oldest child then becomes the elder, responsible for mentoring the new young arrival, and life goes on. At least, unless our protagonist Jinny starts having second thoughts about how things work.The island is a paradise. Nothing will kill you. The snakes won’t bite. The fruits are all edible. You can’t even hurt yourself jumping off the cliffs because the winds will push you back to safety. The children live in a collection of huts built by . . . well, they have no idea. They spend their days fishing or gathering food, playing games, telling stories, or reading books from the library, which was collected by a girl from the past that none of them ever knew. None of the kids know where they came from, or what awaits them when they leave, or why the island works the way it does. They just know a simple warning handed down from child to child over the years: If more than nine kids ever live on the island at the same time, the sky will fall.Jinny becomes the elder when her friend Deen gets in the boat and sails off to his mysterious future. Jinny tries to be a good elder, but she chafes against her new responsibilities and can’t stop thinking about Deen. Eventually, she decides to rebel. She will not leave when the boat comes for her. And that’s when their paradise begins to unravel.The book is, of course, a metaphorical look at childhood, and what it means to become an adult. On that level, it is thought-provoking and magical. I would add a couple of caveats to put you in the right frame of mind before starting this story, however: First, Jinny can be a very annoying heroine. This is by design. It makes perfect sense she would be this way. But sometimes I wanted to strangle her for her selfishness. Secondly (SPOILER ALERT) if you read this like I did, expecting it to be like a dystopian novel where eventually we find out the grand secret of the island, why it is there, how it works, and what sort of society would set up such a system for testing its young . . . you will not get those answers. That’s not what the story is trying to do. You have to accept the mystery/metaphor. It’s a book to be talked about and thought about. It’s a book to explore character and what makes us adults, or children, or family. But once that boat sails into the mist, you will not go with it. As Dread Pirate Roberts would say, “Get used to disappointment!”

  • Laurel
    2019-03-22 07:03

    I've spent years dreaming this book, staring at walls and ceilings and clouds, and trying to wish it into being. I've drawn it in colored pencils and painted it in watercolors. I've scribbled it on notepads and the backs of grocery lists.It's a huge gift to see it published. I'm proud and nervous and happy. I hope you all like it.More here, if you're interested:

  • Hannah Greendale
    2019-04-01 05:12

    Nine children reside on Orphan Island. On the day of the Changing, a green boat arrives to deliver a new child and whisk the eldest child away – never to be seen again. Jinny, now the eldest after her best friend’s departure, is tasked with raising the newest delivery, known as her Care. The next time the boat arrives, Jinny will have to leave the island forever. Can she teach her Care everything she needs to know in time? And when the boat arrives, will Jinny have the courage to face the unknown?Nobody had any idea how the boat worked. It arrived at this same spot, through the thick mist. As if pulled by an invisible string. Then it left again, a few minutes later, the same way. The boat was as reliable as anything, as sure as the stars. Recently longlisted for the 2017 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, Orphan Island has garnered significant attention. Perhaps because it’s a middle-grade novel that caters more to adults than to its intended audience of children ages 8 to 12. Observed simply as a story for children, Orphan Island doesn’t offer much. Nine children go about their lives on the island, wanting for little, facing no substantial dangers, and professing no significant unmet desires. For the most part, the children get along well, save for a few petty squabbles. And despite the absence of adults, the children are washed, fed, and well-slept, because they adhere to a set of rules and regimens that ensure their needs are met. But Orphan Island has greater depths, a secret meaning that likely accounts for its popularity amongst adult readers. Simply stated: (view spoiler)[the island is a metaphor, on which birth is parodied, childhood is explored, and the first steps toward adulthood are embraced (hide spoiler)]. The island has secrets and offers small mysteries. Many reviewers have suggested too many of these mysteries are left unexplained and too few secrets are left unexplored. That problem persists when Orphan Island is read at face value. When examined as a metaphor, however, many loose ends are resolved. The boat arriving from a mysterious place, for example, needn’t be explained when one thinks of it simply as (view spoiler)[a vehicle for depicting a child’s birth (hide spoiler)]. The same can be said for the elusive ending, which appears to frustrate many reviewers. At face value, the conclusion feels unexplained, but (view spoiler)[when viewed as a metaphor, Jinny’s boat ride from the island represents her departure from adolescence. The closing lines: “This only feels like an ending,” Jinny said to the wind and the distance. And once she’d said it, she knew it was true.” indicate that Jinny is comfortably transitioning, departing from childhood and taking her first brave steps into life as a teenager. (hide spoiler)]The big payoff arrives with the book’s closing lines but, despite the resonance of its metaphorical depths, the impact of Orphan Island’s conclusion isn’t weighty enough to justify trudging through its uneventful narrative.

  • emma
    2019-03-21 06:59

    Note: I hid this review not because of spoilers, but because I don't want to bias any children (actual target audience) against this book. I know I liked pretty much every book I read growing up (hard to believe) and the last thing I want to do is create any cynicism in people who are too young for book...was catastrophically, i cannot even put into words how much i hate the main character. i wanted to throttle her. every single second spent within the bounds of her head was a fresh hell, it really was.but as if that were not enough.this island is not deserted, which on the one hand is good because i would genuinely, literally not have survived a 300-page romp through the beginnings of puberty with exclusively our protagonist, but is also, on the other hand, TERRIBLE because the cast of characters outside of Jinny (the main garbage person) is not exactly a dream team of heroes i'll tell ya that. more like 8 bratty kids. yippee.FURTHERMORE.this book is """mysterious""" in a way that really means "grating," and we never get any answers forever and the ending is dumb and inconclusive and this is the worst kind of magical realism (the kind where it just seems like dumb things are happening, no magic involved).in other words..........not great.bottom line: DO NOT LET THE COVER AND THE INTEREST-PIQUING TITLE FOOL YOU THIS IS NOT GOOD

  • Betsy
    2019-04-08 08:12

    *spoiler alert on the whole darn review, actually* I spend more time than I’d like thinking about what makes a person and how that person is an entirely new creation at different stages of life. Are you the same person that you were as a kid? If you’ve changed then does that make you someone new? Because my job consists of reading books for children, I like to pretend that I’ve a more finely honed and developed sense of what kids like than people that don’t have my job, but isn’t that a flawed concept right there? If I’m not the same person I was as a child, why should I have any reason to think that I’ve a better read on their preferences than anyone else? I don’t always have these thoughts. They only really surface when I encounter children’s books that squiggle into the deepest crevices of that organ between my ears. A book like Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder is almost perfectly designed to throw my assumptions (my sweet, precious assumptions) into a tizzy as I try to process the material and then, most difficult of all, turn my thoughts into a coherent review. Orphan Island is a metaphor, an allegory, a work of magical realism, a fantasy, a post-apocalyptic work of quiet science fiction. It’s for kids. It’s for adults who think they think like kids. It’s for adults that don’t think they think like kids at all. What’s the true story here? What is this book and who is its audience? Orphan Island is a book that leaves you with more questions than answers. And clearly this review is fated to follow suit.Helpless. That’s a good word for it. When Jinny hears the bell, and sees her friend Deen, and sees the approaching green boat, that’s how she feels. Helpless. On the boat coming to her small island is a girl named Ess, not much older than four or five. It’s Jinny’s turn to take care of a child and Deen’s to leave the island for good. After all, it’s like the old rhyme says: “Nine on an island, orphans all, / Any more, the sky might fall.” But Jinny doesn’t hold with the old rhyme, she just wants Deen to stay. He doesn’t. He goes. (helpless). Jinny raises Ess in his wake, teaching her swim and eat and read, though not very well (helpless). And when a year has passed and that boat comes bearing a new child with eyes as blue as Jinny’s, she’s faced with the inevitable, right? The boat comes. A child leaves. It's her turn. So what happens when someone doesn’t want to feel helpless anymore? What happens when she dares the sky to fall? What happens on Orphan Island when someone doesn’t play by the rules? Jinny, and everyone else along with her, is about to find out.I like this book. I feel like this is something I need to establish early on. What I need to understand then is the degree to which I like Orphan Island because I am an adult vs. what a kid would like about it. Put another way, is this the paradise of the 21st century overscheduled technology-driven child of helicopter parents or the nightmare? Since I was raised in an era when parents didn’t always know what their kids were doing, am I more naturally inclined to see this island through a rose-colored lens. Is that unattainable freedom precisely what would make this book appealing to a kid today? It's probably just as enticing (maybe more so). These questions get more pointed when we zero in on specific story elements. Let us, for example, look at Jinny’s inability to let go of Ess and acknowledge that she’s growing up and doesn’t need her any more. That’s a parenting issue. It's something that adults instantly understand and, if not empathize with, at least acknowledge. What is the childhood equivalent? Or does it even matter? If the child reader is identifying with the loss of everything that’s familiar (a feeling in Jinny that almost rivals her fierce protectiveness of Ess) does that mean that Jinny’s parental instincts aren’t seen as important?Oh, the book clubs are gonna love this one. I mean, there’s a lot to chew on here. I can already imagine the theories. Maybe the kids are all dead and this is a kind of happy purgatory for them. Maybe it’s like Hokey Pokey (more on that later) and the island is just a metaphor for childhood. Maybe it’s a post-apocalyptic world where this island is the only safe place for special children. Maybe they’re the last children in the world. Maybe all the children in the world are given their own islands. Imagine the book clubs sinking their teeth into all the questions here. The person leading the discussion really only has to ask one single, solitary question to get the ball rolling: What is going on here? Let the games begin.Not that that’s going to comfort kids like the 9-year-old inside of me. I’ll tell you truly that the first book I ever disliked thoroughly wasStuart Little. It was in third grade and Mrs. Castle (rumored to be the “mean teacher” though I never saw it) was reading a chapter of E.B. White’s classic to us every day. And, as all good things come to an end, finally she reached the end of the book where Stuart goes off in his little canoe to find his friend the bird. The end. Ladies and gentlemen, I cannot express to you the rage I felt at this ending. Pure, unmitigated rage. How dare Mr. White leave us hanging like that. How dare he leave his loose ends dangling without the sense to pick them up! Was there a sequel? There was not. I wanted answers. They were not forthcoming. Never before had I ever encountered a children’s book that left so much to the reader. Snyder’s book treads this same dire path. She knew this as an author, of course. She knew that she’d received mail from her readers for years, probably decades to come. If this book becomes a modern day classic then she will never escape its ending. This isn’t to say it isn’t the right ending for the book, or even that it isn’t the most necessary ending you could give. It just means that generations of children are going to know precisely what it means to anticipate answers they were never meant to receive.It’s not like I haven’t read halcyon accounts of childhood through a magical realism lens before. The most obvious modern correlation to this book is Hokey Pokey by Jerry Spinelli. Spinelli’s fantasyland is a little more firmly steeped in 1950s nostalgia. Still, like Orphan Island, it talked about the moment when a kid knows a change is coming (a fading tattoo, a boat on the horizon) and that they must move on. Which, let’s be honest, is a concept that dates back to one book and one book alone. I am referring of course to Peter Pan. Snyder could not have written Orphan Island without the shadow of Pan flitting about. An island of children that live by their own rules? We’re not talking aboutThe Lord of the Flies for crying out loud. But these days I often feel like children's books are indictments of Pan's creed. Pan wouldn't have just beached the boat, he would have ravaged it until it was little more than thin green splinters. This island is no Neverland, for all that adults might see it that way. What’s interesting, and I don’t know how to put this, is that at the heart of this book, Jinny is questioning the universe. She’s putting an unfeeling god to the test. She is a Doubting Thomas. She is a character akin to religious forbears, howling out to the universe, asking why. We want our children to ask why. Or, at least, we tell ourselves we want them to. Truth be told, when the child starts peppering the harried adult over and over with “why” questions, suddenly that instinct doesn’t seem as charming as it did when they were younger. Particularly when the answers are no longer so simple. Jinny asks why, but as there is no means of answering her (or, one might argue, no inclination) she takes that silence as her answer. But for all that Jinny questions, she is content, at least for a while, to not leave to seek out the answers. I mentioned Jinny’s similarities doubters of Old and New Testament lore but consider the island itself. Its Eden-like similarities are hard to ignore. The kids pass down old texts and rules for generations without question. They are tended by an unseen hand, kept safe from weather and animals, and as long as they obey the rules they are fine. What animals live on the island? Snakes. Snakes that, when this Eden is questioned in pursuit of knowledge, dole out punishments blindly. Laurel Snyder as an author has written many children’s books with a distinct Jewish bent. Her early middle grade novelAny Which Wall was one of the first I’d ever read with Jewish kids in a fantasy that had nothing to do with their religion. She’s followed that book up over the years with titles like the truly amazing Passover story The Longest Night or the more urbaneBaxter, the Pig Who Wanted to Be Kosher. And let me state that there is NOTHING at all in this text to indicate that Jinny is Jewish, nor any character for that matter. This is just a book that poses big questions in a unique setting and offers no definitive answers for the reader. Snyder may not have written an overtly Jewish text, but I think she’d agree that there is a worldview at work here that could be interestingly interpreted by a multitude of different religions.What’s so interesting to me is how well Snyder imbues her text with the feeling that something is desperately wrong. She sets up the world very neatly. We meet it almost at the same time as Ess. We are charmed alongside her. And when that moment comes for Jinny to set foot in the green green boat, we feel a shift in the cosmos as that simple act is denied. This is compounded (fairly?unfairly?) when Jinny takes Ben’s charge, Loo. The question can then be whether or not Jinny’s actions in not leaving are as bad as taking Loo. What does Jinny owe the others in the group? This isn’t a 9-12 year old edition ofAyn Rand, so you’re pretty sure that the message isn’t that individual needs are more important than those of the collective, but at the same time I like that Snyder leaves what happens later to the island open to interpretation. Has Jinny really “broken” everything or is this a case of coincidences and a bit of the old tree of knowledge, snakebites and all? If Snyder were truly condemning Jinny, why are her questions so legitimate? She may get into that boat at the end out of necessity, but she gives Ben the letter than will open his own eyes a bit more. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.I’ve written a lot of reviews of children's books in the last 14 years. Some were good. Some were awful. But none of them contained even half as many questions as the ones I’ve written here today. I suppose it’s appropriate for a book with an open-ended ending to elicit queries with no answers, but it feels odd to me. So often (too often?) children’s books do all the heavy lifting FOR their child readers. Almost as if they don’t trust kids to make their own answers. There are always exceptions to this. The aforementioned Stuart Little. The ending of The Giver by Lois Lowry (apocryphal sequels notwithstanding). We adults are so fond of our certainty these days. We go on the internet proclaiming what is and isn’t true in big cap locks, with clever GIFs, and 140 characters. But when you’re uncertain about something you have the capacity to learn. Kids have the capacity to learn, and Orphan Island gives them that. Laurel Snyder has handed them the gift of uncertainty and in this day and age it’s a treasure precious. And rare.For ages 9-12.

  • Sara
    2019-03-22 11:56

    Could there be a sequel? The ending makes sense, but I have so many other questions about what happened.

  • Cass
    2019-04-17 03:44

    I work at Mastermind Toys in Coquitlam, BC, Canada, and my store received an advance reader's copy of this bookI can honestly say I absolutely loved the way this book was written, and the way the story unfolded. Why the 2 star review you may be asking?The ending.The ending of the book ruined the entire story for me and made me frustrated and ask myself repeatedly "What was the point of this book?"Without spoiling the contents of the book, the story follows a group of 9 children on an island, with Jinny as the main character. They have certain sets of rules they are to follow with no real reason why they must follow these rules. There are no adults on the island, just the 9 children (approximately 4-12 years old, each a year apart), and once a year a new child is brought to the island, while the eldest child must leave to keep the number of children at 9.Throughout the whole book I found the story interesting and well written, and quite believable. The main character Jinny can be a bit annoying at times, but in a way that doesn't make her character insufferable, but more believable and real. The entire time I was reading I was very curious about the island and why the children were there, and how everything worked. The ending left me frustrated as none of my questions were answered. Right up until the end this was easily a 4-star book for me, but the ending absolutely destroyed it for me.Laurel Snyder builds an amazing world on the island, but then offers no answers for the many questions I had. In the end I was left confused and just wondering what the point of the book was.Perhaps later after I have calmed down I may like this book more, but after blasting through this book in under 24 hours and finishing it at 3:00am I am left feeling frustrated.

  • Aliza Werner
    2019-03-29 05:04

    Oh, how I loved this book. A standout, an original, from many others. This is the type of book that makes me think, dig deeper into its symbolism and meaning. A layered picture of the transition from childhood to adulthood.

  • Marie
    2019-03-28 05:43

    Upon finishing this novel with my children, I visited the author’s webpage where she had the following quote from Madeleine L’Engle prominently displayed, “When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability… To be alive is to be vulnerable.” I thought this was an interesting quote to ponder in light of this novel that is a coming of age story, about growing up and accepting the vulnerability that comes with it.This novel has a fascinating premise. Nine children live on an island, where no one comes or goes except for once a year when a green boat comes carrying one very small child, and at that time the eldest leaves the island. No one knows where that boat comes from or where it goes, just that there is a nursery rhyme that says the sky will fall if they do not comply. There are many rules in place to ensure that all goes smoothly, either handed down from the previous generations of children or via nursery rhymes. As the novel begins, Jinny loses her best friend Deen, whose turn it is to leave the island. Jinny becomes the eldest and Ess, who has just arrived, is her Care, meaning she will live with and learn from Jinny over the next year all that she needs to in order to survive.After being brought to this magical world where children can play safely and set up with this mesmerizing, delicious premise, not much happens over the next year. It seems there is a lot of waiting, of expectation, and in between time. Is this what childhood feels like? I would think probably so, in the island’s non-technology driven world. During this year, unlike in Lord of the Flies, things go along just fine. Overall, the children are quite well behaved and keep each other in check.Anyway, things finally start to get interesting when Jinny refuses to leave the island when the boat returns the following year. She takes the newly arrived youngest, Loo, as her Care and continues to keep Ess under her wing as well. The weather changes, the island becomes more threatening, and Jinny begins to change and develop into a woman. Finally, she realizes that she must leave as the reader is realizing that this whole novel is a metaphor for growing up. It is a metaphor for leaving childhood and entering adulthood. I will say I was mildly disappointed not to be able to find out the story behind Orphan Island, why the children ended up there, and where they went to after. However, if we knew all that.. the metaphor would be lost. This is a magical book that transports the reader to another realm. It will leave you satisfied, but wanting more! This is a book that the more I thought about it in hindsight, the more brilliant I felt it was.For discussion questions, please see:

  • Kristina Horner
    2019-03-26 11:02

    This book gets 3 stars from me, even though it's more like a 3.5. I don't know. I don't know how I feel.This was a weird book. I was super intrigued by the idea, but I'm not sure it earned what it was trying to accomplish. I spent the whole book desperately wanting to know what was beyond the island, but it became clear that's not the kind of book this was. It felt like it took a long time for the PLOT to start, and didn't really pick up and move away from establishing what life is like on the island until the point where it skips ahead about 200 days.I didn't really like the main character (she was HIGHLY flawed as a character, which I tend to like but I couldn't really find the parts of her I was rooting for) and the other kids on the island were pretty mean as well. I thought the part where she got her period was super weird and out of place. It kills me that I don't know if this island is magical and she really broke the world, or if the bad things happening were coincidence and just symbolic of her own fears about growing up. I DONT KNOW.I feel like this book should have a sequel, but it also hasn't earned it. I just want to know how this world works!!! GAH.

  • Beth
    2019-04-08 06:12

    Please oh please let there be a sequel!For people who scoff at adults who read and study children's literature because it isn't literary enough, this is one of the first books I will point them to. There are so many unanswered questions in this book and important themes that will lead to quality discussions with students. This would be a fantastic story for book clubs or literature circles.

  • Zazu
    2019-04-17 08:01

    I don't really understand how this book is so good. It feels like the author somehow managed to subvert my mind in its opinions of what makes a page-turner, what makes for good emotional investment, what makes something compelling or beautiful or fun or terrifying or sad or happy or simple or complex.Snyder has managed to mold not only a stunning gem of a story, but also her readers' minds, as we follow Jinny's progression from stubborn certainty to uneasy uncertainty. In her story, we can see reflected the truth of every childhood: that we must inevitably grow older, and that growing older isn't inherently good, or bad, but it is uncertain, and that feeling can be both liberating and claustrophobic. Why does change happen? Is change good or bad? Did I cause it? Can I undo it? Can I ignore it? Does change work the same for everyone else? What comes next? And is it okay to not know? ...Is it okay to not be okay?In a book where there are no explosions or kidnappings or even some good old fashioned hocus pocus, this book is nonetheless terrifically gripping. It is wise. It is perfect.Recommended for all humans 9 and up. **Teachers/education admin who have any say in classroom curricula... take note. You want this one. (And if you're reading the description, or even the title, "orphan island" and having terrifying "lord of the flies" flashbacks, let me assure you that this is, in fact, totally, totally different.)

  • Jillian Heise
    2019-04-01 11:10

    If The Maze Runner & The Giver had a lushly depicted baby, it would be this island. Though the ending left me with more questions than answers.

  • Rebecca
    2019-03-21 08:59

    I was excited to receive an ARC as I thought the premise of this book looked very promising. I get that this is an allegory about growing up and Snyder can write, but she misses in picking her audience. As an adult, I found the pacing slow and the purpose too obvious--yet adults really do seem the best audience for the allegory. For tweens, there would be too much time spent on small children and nagging, as well as an open ended mystery that would be frustrating. Younger children woud be fascinated by the details of daily life on the isalnd, but would not understand the allegory or the ending. Basically, this concept would be better suited for a short story for adults and fails as a fantasy for children as executed. And, even as an adult reader who gets the allegory, I was disappointed by the lack resolution on purpose and background of the island.

  • Amanda
    2019-04-12 04:43

    For full review, see here. highly recommend this book, either for your own enjoyment or as a teacher. But set aside a day to read it, because you won't be able to put it down. Ultimately, readers who discuss this book are going to answer these questions:1. Should you choose to grow up, or not?2. What are the repercussions if you keep choosing childish behavior?3. What is your responsibility to children younger than you?4. What is your responsibility to take care of your world and environment?5. What is the best way to teach others?6. When does being protective of someone turn into enabling?What effect does this have on a person?

  • Abby Johnson
    2019-04-20 05:59

    This book, y'all. Seriously, I can't tell if I LOVE IT or HATE IT. Maddeningly frustrating, but also so super identifiable. Unlike anything I've read.

  • Ms. Yingling
    2019-04-10 11:55

    ARC provided by publisher at ALAJinny lives on an island with either other orphans, which, according to a saying, is the number that must be preserved to keep "the sky from falling". To this end, every year one child arrives in a boat, and one leaves. This year, Jinny's best friend is the oldest child and must leave, and Ess arrives. As the new oldest child, it falls to Jinny to take care of Ess and instruct her in the ways of the island. She teaches her to read and swim, and realizes that this is a difficult job. When the boat arrives with a new child, however, Jinny decides to stay, imperiling everything that she holds dear. Strengths: The world building is very detailed, and it is an intriguing story. What is going on? What are the kids there? Who is Abigail?Why does the world fall apart? What will happen to Jinny and the rest? Children do like to read books where the children are in charge of everything, so this might appeal to fans of The Boxcar Children and survival stories where the children are living alone in the wilderness. Weaknesses: This was a cross between The Different Girl and Hokey Pokey. I'm disappointed that there were so many unanswered questions. I kept hoping that all of the build up would lead somewhere, but it didn't. Also wasn't fond of the Blue Lagoon type scene when Jinny hits puberty.What I really think: I am glad that Ms. Snyder wrote this for herself, and that other people like it. I found it confusing and don't think that my students would appreciate it. As much as I enjoyed Any Which Wall (2009) and Bigger Than a Bread Box (2012), they don't see wide circulation. Will pass on purchase.

  • Hannah
    2019-03-28 05:00

    THIS BOOK. ORPHAN ISLAND perfectly evokes the feeling of standing on the cusp of adolescence--the strong emotion, the forgetting, and the loneliness that comes along so suddenly and with so much force are all there, swirling and clouding within and around Jinny. Snyder is a master of painting with words--when you read ORPHAN ISLAND, you are ON the island, you ARE Jinny. A beautiful, moving ode to the pain and the marvel of growing up.

  • Leonard Kim
    2019-03-24 10:48

    But is it really all a big metaphor? To be sure, much of the book reads like the second coming of Spinelli's Hokey Pokey, but as the book progresses, one gets hints of a fantasy/mystery-style explanation for everything. One of the Goodreads Q&A answers links to the author herself stating she had written an "origin story" for the island which she ended up withholding. Perhaps there is a comparison to Peter Brown's Wild Robot, which also for much of its length read like an extended metaphor/fable but then seemed to inch into a different genre (world-building sci-fi/fantasy) that would allow for a sequel in a way Hokey Pokey wouldn't. Snyder in the same post indicates, even if there is no sequel, there is more story after the end of the book.Edited to add: Another book to compare is Starmer's The Riverman, which also features a fantasy world that seems like it should be a metaphor, but is presented in a way to create uncertainty and, in an ambiguous twist ending, suggests the world may be real after all. (That said, I prefer Starmer's book to this.)

  • Laura Harrison
    2019-03-25 10:08

    I enjoyed Orphan Island immensely. It was quite an exciting, expertly written page turner. Jinny and Ess are irresistible characters. Impossible not to empathize and root for Jinny throughout the book. I do wish the author provided some answers at Orphan Island's conclusion. A sequel is definitely necessary. I won't give anything away but there was little payout at the end. I do think the book's core audience will be ultimately dissatisfied-or maybe just wanting more. An extra sentence or two showing hope, disaster, anything would have been ideal. Even if it is a book about fighting growing up and venturing into the unknown. I am going to imagine my own ending just for the sake of closure. Orphan Island may be a teacher's dream book. There is a lot to discuss and debate. The ride was terrific for me so it I'm giving it 5 big, glowing, shiny stars.

  • Stacey
    2019-04-01 12:12

    Oh, how I long for books that are different than all the others. A world I couldn't have imagined on my own, but all of a sudden, here it is living in my mind. The imagery and world building in Orphan Island feels real. Exactly what you want out of a fantasy story. I can feel the sun warming my tunic and the grainy sand on my toes. I am in the book cabin reading the afternoon away. Perhaps what I love most about this book is that much is left to your own imagination. This book will be something different for each reader. This book, in a child's mind will take on a whole new meaning. That is magical in itself. Orphan Island will make you wonder and imagine.

  • Michele Knott
    2019-04-16 05:06

    Beautiful. I was captivated by the story, by the themes, by the writing.

  • Patrick
    2019-04-16 09:49

    A perfect book to read on vacation. I loved everything about it. Powerful story and an ending that leaves your heart aching. Look for it in May of 2017...

  • Joyce Yattoni
    2019-04-16 09:03

    As I was reading this I couldn't help thinking about the book The Lord of the Flies from my childhood. Unlike The Lord of the Flies, this story casts an idyllic setting where nine orphan children live and get along. There is always enough food, shelter, clothing and there is even a reading room on this remote island. But most of all the children all get along with one another and work collaboratively to make the island work. Each number of "sleepings" a green boat brings an orphan and the elder orphan leaves the island to go back to somewhere. The author did not reveal anything as to how the orphan was chosen for the island or where the children go when they return which was a bit frustrating for this reader. I did enjoy the literary allusion to The Giving Tree at the beginning of the novel. Perhaps the reference to this picture book story was meant as a metaphor for this story. The children on the island did take and take from the island and the island seemed to give back, until such time where the protagonist refused to take her turn in the boat. Just a lot of unanswered questions for me, but I did enjoy the characterizations of all nine orphans.

  • Rachael Stein
    2019-04-05 11:47

    "Nine on an island, orphans all / any more the sky might fall." Sometimes you finish a book and you're not sure whether you've just read the best book of the year or witnessed a train wreck. It seems to happen more and more often to me. I feel like I should be getting more confident in my critical assessments as I get older, but instead I increasingly find myself going, "Huh! That sure was a book!" or, "Okay, I guess that's the kind of thing we're publishing these days?"Orphan Island is a hell of a thing. The premise is simple: nine children (each one year apart in age) live on an idyllic island. Once a year a boat comes to bring a new toddler (a Care) and takes away the oldest child (the Elder), who is approaching adolescence. It invites inevitable comparisons to Hokey Pokey, by Jerry Spinelli, of course, and for its first half Orphan Island seems to occupy that same allegorical space. We don't know how the children get there, or why, or how the island takes care of them. It just does. We do know that Jinny, the eldest child this year, is having a hard time letting go of childhood. As an aside, Jinny is an admirably unlikable character. She feels like a real twelve-year-old. She's bratty and selfish and makes just about all of the mistakes it's possible to make on an island where nothing can go wrong. Anyway, the book seems to be following a fairly predictable trajectory in which Jinny will grow and mature and generally get her shit together, and then she will leave the island and it will be bittersweet but necessary. But then the plot takes an unexpected turn. (Spoilers follow.)After a pretty inauspicious year as Elder, the boat comes for Jinny, and she just... doesn't get in. She drags the thing up on the sand, collects the new Care, and determines to continue business as usual. Some of the other children warn her that she's breaking one of the very few rules that seem to hold their reality together, but Jinny doesn't care. Until reality starts to fall apart. The snakes are suddenly venomous. The winds that keep the children from falling off the cliffs are no longer functioning. The chickens stop laying. Children start getting hurt. A lot of the reviews I've read have been frustrated with the ambiguous ending of Orphan Island. Jinny does end up leaving in the boat, along with the new Care (who is on the verge of death), but nothing is explained. Here are just a few of the things Snyder never tells us: How does the island work? Who created it, and why? Where do the children come from? Where do the children go? When Jinny leaves, will it fix the island, or is she leaving her fellow kids behind to starve? What are they supposed to do when all of the books in their little library fall apart (this one made me especially anxious)?To those people, Laurel Snyder replies, basically: being twelve is weird and horrible and you have no idea what's happening to you or why. She wanted to replicate that experience in novel form. I'm... really not sure yet whether she has succeeded! I do know that she has created a world that is strange and vivid, populated with characters who feel like real children. I know that this is an ambitious book, and I have a feeling I will be thinking about it for a long time. It also features clear, strong, uncluttered prose - in that sense, I think it's Snyder's best work yet. For those reasons, I would not be surprised if this one comes up for discussion at the Newbery table, but I wonder if it's too divisive to win. Either way, I plan to pass it along to my almost-twelve-year-old. Though she may refuse to read it, because she's bratty and contrary.

  • Kate Olson
    2019-04-18 06:04

    UPDATED TO 5 STARS based on this blog post - and rambling review due to the fact that I read this in one sitting on an airplane and tried to review it before leaving the plane!I absolutely loved the story, and was completely sucked into the world of Orphan Island. The entire premise of the story is absolutely charming and fascinating and sad and glorious and just plain magical! Reading this as a 30-something female librarian, I obviously have a different perspective than the intended audience does, but I love the fact that so many of the things that the Elders go through are precisely what parents do - not knowing how to teach specific skills or even that you ARE supposed to teach them. (THIS WAS MY PREVIOUS THOUGHT BEFORE READING THE BLOG POST) The only critical thing I have to say is that I wanted more resolution at the end. I am desperately hoping for a sequel!I received a digital ARC of this title for review.

  • AmandaSchreiber
    2019-03-26 11:56

    "Somewhere out there, beyond the boat, was more." Orphan Island is sure to enchant readers young & old and leave them wanting more. The story telling in this novel is pure perfection. From the magical island to the complex characters - this book has a lot to offer. Much like LOST, readers will be pulled into this surreal world & begin asking questions about everything (and everyone). I was captivated from the first bell toll to the last page - my only wish is that there were more answers.Laurel Snyder does a great job of building a world that is both believable & imaginative. I can't wait to discuss & share with kids! On my #MockNewbery list for 2018. (48/100) 🌊🏝🛶

  • Julie
    2019-04-18 06:56

    This is a book that immediately pulled me into its spell, throwing me into the magical world of the island, so after only a few pages, I started to wonder about and hope for the characters. This is a book that often left me gaping in awe -- of the beauty of the language, or the world that lay on the pages, or at that big plot point in the middle that I swear at did not see coming. My only regret is that I didn't get to read this when I was a kid; I viewed so much of Jinny's story through parental eyes, since so many of the woes and troubles she experiences are magical versions of the exhaustion of parenting, transported to an island of kids.

  • Mary Lee
    2019-04-01 06:48

    Hmm...we'll have to talk, once you've read it.

  • Tamara
    2019-03-25 05:06

    I'm still trying to figure out what I think about this one.