Monday, October 10, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday - Island's End

Well, my brief blog break (try saying that three times fast!) went on a little longer than I anticipated and I'm sorry I missed reading so many of your posts.  I'm back, for now at least.  The writing is going better than it did with my first novel, but I'm superstitious about saying too much, so I'll keep my lips sealed for now!

For today's MMGM post, I'm touting Island's End by Padma Venkatraman (Putnam, August 2011, for ages 10 and up).

Source: advanced reading copy from publisher

Synopsis (from the publisher and Indiebound): From the acclaimed author of Climbing the Stairs comes a fascinating story set on a remote island untouched by time. Uido is ecstatic about becoming her tribe's spiritual leader, but her new position brings her older brother's jealousy and her best friend's mistrust. And looming above these troubles are the recent visits of strangers from the mainland who have little regard for nature or the spirits, and tempt the tribe members with gifts, making them curious about modern life. When Uido's little brother falls deathly ill, she must cross the ocean and seek their help. Having now seen so many new things, will Uido have the strength to believe in herself and the old ways? And will her people trust her to lead them to safety when a catastrophic tsunami threatens? Uido must overcome everyone's doubts, including her own, if she is to keep her people safe and preserve the spirituality that has defined them.

Why I liked it:  A strong female protagonist!  Plus, it's eye-opening to read about a little-known part of the world and a little-known culture.  Fans of Island of the Blue Dolphins or Julie of the Wolves would love this book (and I think it has strong Newbery potential), although it may have more in common with The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera.  Uido's island is fictional, but the author based it on islands she encountered during a year spent doing oceanographic research in the Andaman Islands.  She also based the tsunami on the actual 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean.

Note that this is definitely upper middle grade, not because of any intimate scenes (there aren't any), but because after the tsunami recedes, there's one very shocking scene of the devastation.  If you don't like books that describe dead bodies or body parts, you might need to skip that chapter.  But don't miss the very powerful ending.

Now tell the truth: did you try saying "brief blog break" three times fast?

What middle grade marvels have you read this week?

MMGM is the brainchild of Shannon Whitney Messenger:  Other regulars include (but are not limited to):

Shannon O'Donnell at Book Dreaming
Myrna Foster at The Night Writer
Sherrie Petersen at Write About Now 
Natalie Aguirre at Literary Rambles
Brooke Favero at Somewhere in the Middle
Deb Marshall at Just Deb
Barbara Watson at Novel and Nouveau
Anita Laydon Miller at her middle grade blog
Michael G-G at Middle Grade Mafioso
Pam Torres at So I'm Fifty
Ms. Yingling at Ms. Yingling Reads
Danika Dinsmore at The Accidental Novelist

I'll be back on Friday with a YA Friday interview with a fantasy author from Pennsylvania!  Stay tuned.


  1. Welcome back. Hope you enjoyed your break.

    This book sounds really different and definitely for an upper middle grader. But that's good. That's actually the type of middle grade I enjoy reading. Thanks for sharing about it.

  2. made me look over my shoulder, 'cause yeah...I tried to say it three times fast :P

    This book sounds _great_ and will be sure to keep my eye out for it. Welcome back--and my recent read was THE WHOLE TRUTH by Kit Pearson. She truly captures the ten year old voice and issues, mixes in historical setting and a mystery--you have a marvelous read!

  3. My daughter loves ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS but the chapter you talked of would bother her. Thank you for the heads up about this book. That tsunami and its images and descriptions still haunt me.

  4. Thanks for this review, Joanne. I've never heard of the book or the author.

  5. Thanks, all.

    Natalie, I like upper middle grade too!

    Ahaha, Deb, gotcha! Thanks for admitting it. I always do things like that when people suggest it. And I love Kit Pearson. I remember a time travel novel she wrote a while back, A HANDFUL OF TIME.

    Oh yes, Barbara. That tsunami was horrifying. Luckily, that's only one tiny part of this book, but yeah, I like to give people a heads up. Talking about body parts can be gruesome.

    Myrna, I discovered Padma when her first novel was published. CLIMBING THE STAIRS is YA, but not the least bit raunchy. It's about India during WWII. You might like it.

  6. Thanks for introducing me to this writer, Joanne. And I did try saying "brief blog break" fast three times--and it came out sounding like a Korean meat dish.

  7. Sounds like an interesting book. I do love Island of the Blue Dolphins!

  8. Oh ha ha, Michael! A Korean meat dish. Funny. And I'm glad I introduced you to a new author.

    Welcome to my blog, Jennifer, and to Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays!

  9. sounds really interesting. I'll have to check it out. Glad you're back.

  10. New author for me, too, thanks! As I posted for MGM this week, I'm more of a fan of upper middle grade fiction. There really is a distinction and I've seen some referring to upper as "tween fiction" (although that's not a publisher or bookstore category yet, it may be with all the middle grade books out now).

    And yes, I'm a total geek, I tried to say "brief blog break" three times fast (several times)while sitting in a coffee shop. I was unsuccessful.

  11. Ahaha, Danika! I'm laughing to myself picturing you in a coffee shop saying that.

    I've heard that "tween fiction" phrase too. Not sure when it'll catch on. Off to check out your MMGM post now! I'll have to add to you my list.


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