Sunday, May 13, 2012

Baby Island - Carol Ryrie Brink

Summary:  Shipwrecked!  For twelve-year-old Mary Wallace and her ten-year-old sister Jean, floating on the sea in a lifeboat seems more like a dream than reality – actually, more like a nightmare.  But they’re not the only survivors of the ocean liner, sunk on its way to Australia.  On board their tiny boat with them are four bouncing babies.  Whether or not any of them will survive, though, is questionable.

Hope comes in the form of a deserted island.  But will this become their home for the rest of their lives?
This is the classic tale of courage and dedication by one of the most popular authors of children’s books, Carol Ryrie Brink.  Her other titles include Newberry Medal-winner  Caddie Woodlawn, Magical Melons, and The Bad Times of Irma Baumlein(Summary from book – Image from

My Review:  Reading this book sent me straight back to my childhood.  When I was little (probably older than I’d like to admit, but I’m going to go with “little” to save a little face), I used to lock myself in the bathroom, hike a half-slip up to my armpits, and pretend that I was shipwrecked on a desert island.  I would sprawl in the corner behind the door and imagine myself washed ashore, my clothes tattered and torn into rags by the harsh sea waves.  Eventually, I’d crawl to safety and collapse on the bathmat before hauling myself to the sink for a drink of cool island water and to the shelter of the linen closet to keep out the storm.  Towels transformed into scraps of leftover sail and toothbrushes helped fend off all sorts of imaginary dangers.  I had quite the imagination.  I’m not sure my parents knew about my island exploits, but if they did they never said anything.

Baby Island tells the whimsical story of two young girls shipwrecked on a desert island with four little babies.  The girls, Mary and Jean, are remarkably resourceful as they manage to build a shelter and care for the babies while they await for rescue.  This youthful crew of explorers have all manner of adventures as they traipse around the island and, eventually, discover that their desert island is not as deserted as they thought.  A grumpy old man with a hatred of “meddlesome young’uns” has also taken up residence.  Is he a “savitch” or a pirate?  Will Mary, Jean, and the babies ever get off the island?  Only time will tell!

I was pleasantly surprised by this book.  Not surprising since I didn’t recognize the author *gasp* and completely judged this book by its cover.  However, as the story got rolling, I sincerely enjoyed reading it to my two oldest daughters.  They were in raptures over the plot, which was clever and entertaining, and I could see the little wheels in their heads turning as they made themselves part of the story.   Kaisa declared herself “Mary” and appropriately cast her younger sister Sophie Jean, in the role of Mary’s younger sister “Jean.”   Sophie wasn’t terribly pleased by the casting until Jean got herself a pet monkey.

Come summer, I have no doubt that many games of Baby Island will be played in the backyard (or bathroom).  I’ll have to keep a close eye on my two youngest girls when they are shanghai’d into playing one of the babies.  Overall, this was a wonderful read-aloud experience.  I’ll be keeping tight hold of it because I’m sure they’ll want to read it again. 

Kaisa’s thoughts (age eight):  There was nothing bad about it! I give that five stars!  My favorite part is when they get shipwrecked on the island and they build their own teepee.  Mr. Peterkin was kind of grumpy at first, but then he turned out actually nice.

Sophie’s thoughts (age six):  I like it when they did Christmas and at the end I like it when the parrot and the monkey eat all the pudding.  Mr Peterkin was good and he was also a seaman.  One thousand stars!  Over a thousand!

My Rating: 4.25 Stars

For the sensitive reader:  Mary and Jean were rather concerned about the possibility of “savitches” inhabiting the island.  I suppose if I really wanted to get picky I could talk about the negative presentation of non-white races in early American literature, but I won't.  This book was written in 1937, so it was bound to happen.

Sum it up:  A book to inspire the imagination!  


Anonymous said...

I remember reading this book and loving it almost as much as Island of the Blue Dolphins. It certainly is great for that industrious age range where knowing the lists and how everything was done is so fascinating. I'm glad to hear your little girls liked this book. I'll definitely have to pick up a copy because it is a welcome addition to any shelf - pity my little boys wouldn't be so interested. Maybe I'll try it on them anyway and see what happens.

megan said...

Help. We are almost finished with this book and it seems the last 2 pages are missing, can you tell me if your book ended on page 160 or did it have numbers up to 163. We have enjoyed the read aloud but I am afraid I will have to purchase the kindle version to finish it.

MindySue said...

Oh Megan, I wish I could. We moved into a rental home and had to put almost all my books in storage! Baby Island was one of them. I did see that on Amazon and Powells they have the book listed as having 160 pages. When we read the book, it didn't seem incomplete. Can you tell me where yours left off? Have you checked your local library?

foodgal said...

I am so happy I found this! I got this book as a hand-me-down, probably in the mid/late 1970's. I read it over and over and over. Now that I have the name I have to get the book to reread it! I read it so many times I remember most of it.

MindySue said...

foodgal! I am so happy you found it! That just brightens my day!


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