Harpoon Island

Pieter Van Raven, Author Scribner Book Company $13.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-684-19092-1
From both his first book, The Great Man's Secret , and this new offering, it is clear that Van Raven is clearly at home on territory where children and adults interact, reaching out and somehow being transformed by the contact. A new schoolmaster, Frank Barnes, and his son Brady arrive on Harpoon Island, believing that they might be able to settle there. War rumbles in distant Europe, but the island is removed from that, at least outwardly. A vindicative preacher, who rules the island in lieu of a real government, insidiously turns the people against Frank for being German and therefore ``the enemy.'' Soon he and Brady must once again move on. The focus of the narrative is Frank, although Brady's gradual opening up from a silent, slow learner to a joyful child is also evoked. But Frank is too good, too hardworking, too forbearing to gain much sympathy. His battle with the preacher tends to be passive (he does not prevail by his own actions, but by circumstances). And while his relationship with Brady and the children he teaches unfolds with quiet precision, it is not enough to satisfy. Ages 11-14. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1989
Release date: 09/01/1989
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