cover image Island


Gary Paulsen. Scholastic, $17.95 (208pp) ISBN 978-0-531-05749-0

The island is in the middle of a small lake in northern Wisconsin. It is uninhabited until the summer Wilstet, who is 15, arrives. Wil is at first drawn by the simplicity of the place, but as his concentration sharpens the island unfolds its matrix of life and death, mirroring the unfolding layers of Wil's self-consciousness. He fills notebooks with watercolors and writes essays about what he sees, feels, remembers and observes within. He decides to stay, Thoreau-like, supported by his new friend Susan, even though the worldanxious parents, town bullies, and a curious pressoccasionally intrudes. His serenity finally becomes fascinating. This could have been another back-to-nature story, but Newbery Honor writer Paulsen tells Wil's inner journey with a confident lyricism that duplicates Wil's emotional qualities. The somewhat forced plot elements are secondary to the author's purposehis spareness, repetition and use of rhythm gives his language intensity while holding out to readers the promise of all-too-elusive clarity. Ages 11-14. (April)