A rocky start would be a generous way to describe Sarah Robinson’s vacation. First her dad remarries, then she’s forced to spend time with the new wife and her children on a cramped boat, and—to top it all off—they all get marooned on a creepy island! Stephanie Bodeen’s Shipwreck Island is an ideal next read for middle schoolers who loved the adventure and fun of Johann David Wyss’ The Swiss Family Robinson. Plus with its mystery and supernatural island elements, it serves as a great introduction to future fans of television hit Lost.
Sure to whet the appetites of sea-loving readers, Shipwreck Island may also prompt thoughts about just how well readers and their own families would survive on a deserted island. Here, we play a round of desert island with author and former Peace Corp member Bodeen, and get a glimpse at her own tricks for survival.
Bookish: If you were trapped on a deserted island, what three books would you have wanted with you at Sarah’s age (12)?
Bookish: What three books would you want with you now?
Bookish: What five survival items would you salvage from the boat?
SB: Lighter. Water filter/pitcher. Goat cheese. (I’m assuming the boat was somewhat classy. Oh wait, it wrecked. I’ll lower my standards and make it cheese product.) Pillow. Blanket.
Bookish: If help didn’t come, how would you try to get off the island?
SB: Whatever method did not involve touching the water at any time, being in the water at any time, or potentially ingesting water at any time. I’m not a swimmer. Or a fan of water over my head. Actually, can we just have a maroon-type scenario that is water-free?
Bookish: When making camp would you pick the beach or the jungle?
SB: The line where the beach meets the jungle, so I have some shelter from the elements, but I don’t have to go into the scariness.
Bookish: Would you scavenge for fruit and nuts or go hunting?
SB: Oh boy, I’m pretty resourceful. Hopefully I could rustle up some coconuts, maybe a stray papaya.
Bookish: If you could pick, which literary characters would you want as survival companions?
Bookish: If you could pick one feature of the island you were stranded on, what would it be?
SB: No bugs. I’ve seen too many episodes of Naked and Afraid…
Bookish: What would you miss most about civilization when on the island?
SB: I was in the Peace Corps. No contest: indoor plumbing.
Bookish: Once you were rescued and returned to civilization, what is the first place you’d go to eat?
SB: Jimmy John’s! #12, Unwich, added bacon, no cucumber.
Bookish: The television show you’d binge to catch up on?
Bookish: The first person you’d go to see?
SB: The lady who cuts my hair.
Stephanie Bodeen is the author of The Gardener and The Compound, which earned her an ALA Quick Pick for Young Adults, a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year, and a Publishers Weekly “Flying Start.” She is also the author of several picture books, including Elizabeti’s Doll, winner of the Ezra Jack Keats Award. Bodeen grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. Her first friends were cows, which she named after characters in books. From there she went on to be a Peace Corps volunteer in East Africa, and has lived in seven states, as well as a remote Pacific island. She adores books and is a big fan of cheese. She lives in Oregon.