Sunday, February 7, 2010

Abel's Island by William Steig


Abel's Island by William Steig is one of the 1977 Honor Award Winner.

One summer day, newlywed mice Abel and Amanda are out for a picnic in the woods when they are caught in a sudden storm--a "full-fledged, screaming hurricane" to be precise. As they take refuge in a cave, a wind scoops up Amanda's scarf, and Abel foolishly lunges from safety to retrieve it. So begins William Steig's Newbery Honor Book Abel's Island, the ensuing adventures of this rather foppish mouse as he comes head to head with nature. Amazingly, Abel is swept up in a stream, then a river, then eventually marooned on an island (about 12,000 tails long). He is sure that his rescue is imminent: "It's certainly gotten around that Abelard Hassam di Chirico Flint, of the Mossville Flints, is missing," the society mouse speculates. But he is not so lucky. What will this intelligent, imaginative rodent do to get off the island and back to his beloved Amanda? He busies himself with finding ways to get to shore (including bridges, boats, catapults, stepping stones, and gliders); figuring out what he should eat (everything from mulberries to roasted seeds); and investigating where he should take shelter (in a rotten log). As the weeks and months go by, he misses his books, his paintings, his comfortable stuffed chair, his stylish clothes (now damp, torn, and lumpy), but above all his precious wife Amanda, whom he thinks about constantly. As the mouse faces his new life Robinson Crusoe-style, Abel discovers what it's like to be in tune with the natural world as well as his true nature, and what it's like to return, fortified, to his real home and to the arms of the one he loves. Along the way, readers can't help but rediscover the joys of being alive. (Ages 8 and older, but an engaging read-aloud for younger children, too)

This is a charming book and I loved it. Can't wait one day to read it chapter by chapter to one of my grandkids. The writing style by the author I really liked. The story flowed smoothly throughout the book. I felt compassion for Abel, missing his wife and all the comforts from home. It was a great learning lesson for Abel to figure out how to survive on his own and to show that no matter the situation you are in, you can survive if you want to.

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