The Disappearing Island

Corinne Demas, Author, Ted Lewin, Illustrator Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing $16 (32p) ISBN 978-0-689-80539-4
To celebrate her ninth birthday, Carrie's grandmother takes her on a boat ride to Billingsgate Island off Cape Cod, a tantalizingly mysterious real-life spot that has eroded over the years to just a sandbar that appears and disappears with the tide. There, they settle in for a picnic lunch and some beachcombing, while Grandma recounts some of the island's history. They find the remains of an old lighthouse, and later, while resting in the sun, Carrie imagines visiting the island a century ago, when it was home to a thriving community. Demas invests her finely etched blend of realism and fantasy with supple imagery--a ""strange rusty creature that looked like the backbone of a whale"" turns out to be a metal spiral staircase from a defunct lighthouse; the tide ""claim[s] the edges of the beach."" Working in his customary watercolors, Lewin (previously paired with Demas for Matthew's Meadow) conjures land- and seascapes bathed in dazzling summer light. From the vigor of the boat ride to Carrie's waking dream, rendered in a beachy, pale orange wash that gives it visual distinction, Lewin is wholly in control of his medium. Ages 5-8. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/29/2000
Release date: 06/01/2000
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