“Storytelling for young readers at its finest—equal parts summer adventure and environmental suspense…[a] love letter to family, friendship, and the natural world.” —Kwame Alexander, New York Times bestselling author of The Crossover
From New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe comes a beautiful story of friendship, loss, and the healing power of nature in her first book for middle grade readers.
Eleven-year-old Jake’s life has just turned upside-down. His father was wounded in Afghanistan, and his mother is going to leave to care for him. That means Jake’s spending the summer on tiny Dewees Island with his grandmother. The island is a nature sanctuary—no cars or paved roads, no stores or restaurants. To make matters worse, Jake’s grandmother doesn’t believe in cable or the internet. Which means Jake has no cell phone, no video games...and no friends. This is going to be the worst summer ever!
He’s barely on the island before he befriends two other kids—Macon, another “summer kid,” and Lovie, a know-it-all who lives there and shows both Jake and Macon the ropes of life on the island. All three are struggling with their own family issues and they quickly bond, going on adventures all over Dewees Island. Until one misadventure on an abandoned boat leads to community service. Their punishment? Mandatory duty on the Island Turtle Team. The kids must do a daily dawn patrol of the beach on the hunt for loggerhead sea turtle tracks. When a turtle nest is threatened by coyotes, the three friends must find a way to protect it. Can they save the turtle nest from predators? Can Jake’s growing love for the island and its inhabitants (be they two-legged, four-legged, feathered, or finned) help to heal his father?
Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty-seven books, including the bestselling The Beach House series. Monroe also writes children’s picture books, and a new middle grade fiction series called The Islanders. She is a member of the South Carolina Academy of Authors’ Hall of Fame, and her books have received numerous awards, including the South Carolina Center for the Book Award for Writing; the South Carolina Award for Literary Excellence; the SW Florida Author of Distinction Award; the RT Lifetime Achievement Award; the International Book Award for Green Fiction; the Henry Bergh Children’s Book Award; and her novel, A Lowcountry Christmas, won the prestigious Southern Prize for Fiction. The Beach House is a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, starring Andie MacDowell. Several of her novels have been optioned for film. She is the cocreator and cohost of the weekly web show and podcast Friends & Fiction. Monroe is also an active conservationist and serves on several boards. She lives on the South Carolina coast, which is a source of inspiration for many of her books.
Eleven-year-old New Jersey boy Jake spends the summer with his grandmother on Dewees Island, South Carolina.
Jake’s Air Force mom must remain with his dad, who was severely injured while serving in Afghanistan, leaving Jake with no other options. He narrates his own tale, admitting his all-consuming fears for his dad. Grandmother Honey appears somewhat unkempt. She is easily tired and lives in a messy house with a refrigerator containing spoiled food, a result of a long depression after being widowed. Despite the lack of internet, Jake grows to love his loft bedroom surrounded by his dad’s childhood books and nature journals. Honey gives him chores and insists that he spend his time outdoors exploring the island and recording his observations in his own journal. Saving his writing for descriptive letters to his dad, Jake prefers to draw what he sees, and his pencil sketches enhance the sense of place. Jake’s new friends, Lovie and Macon, share his adventures, and the friends encourage each other, providing comfort and understanding when needed. With guidance from a newly energized Honey, they even become absorbed in protecting loggerhead turtle nests. Monroe and May seamlessly incorporate fascinating nature facts into a tale of Jake’s adventures and near disasters. Readers will admire Jake’s compassion, perseverance, and strength and find themselves moved to laughter and tears as his summer unfolds. Most major characters are assumed White; Macon is Black.
A tender, warmhearted tale in a memorable setting. (sources) (Fiction. 8-12)
– Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2021
This is storytelling for young readers at its finest—equal parts summer adventure and environmental suspense, The Islanders is a middle-grade love letter to family, friendship, and the natural world.
– Kwame Alexander, New York Times Bestselling Author of The Crossover
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