A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Stranded is the first book in a series written by the host of TV's Survivor (with Chris Tebbetts, co-author of Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life). In the book, four kids -- two pairs of stepsiblings whose parents just married -- are in a devastating shipwreck and spend much of the book in peril on a deserted island. The stepsiblings will have to depend on their natural abilities, personal knowledge, and, most important, one another to survive. Readers will learn facts about the Pacific Ocean and some survival tips, including how to build a signal fire.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Vanessa and her brother, Buzz, have a new stepfamily, including Carter and his little sister, Jane. After their parents get married, the four tween stepsiblings go on a sailing adventure with Carter and Jane's uncle so they can bond. But a storm ravages the boat, and the kids find themselves stranded on an island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean with no adults to help them. When the satellite phone stops working and their water runs dry, they realize \"all they really had now was each other.\"
Is it any good?
The author does a good job of weaving in interesting facts about survival and island geography while also presenting each of the characters' strengths and weaknesses. ("Husky" 11-year-old Buzz, for example, isn't very good at physical challenges but is an innovative problem solver.) There's a lot of setup here as readers learn about each of the step-siblings and experience the devastating storm that takes their boat down. STRANDED is actually about half over before the kids finally get to the island.
The book's themes are obvious, and the kids' initial adventures are pretty predictable (looking for water, trying to power their satellite phone), but there's probably enough here to get readers anticipating the next book in the series. Kids may want to look at a picture of an atoll before reading Stranded so they can picture the stranded tweens' island a bit more clearly.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what's appealing about Stranded. Did the fact that it was written by the host of Survivor draw you to it? What does the book have in common with the TV show? Do they share a target audience?
What do you learn in Stranded about the Pacific Ocean and how to survive on a boat or alone on an island? When you learn something in a fictional story, does it stick with you as well when you read it in a book for school?
Stranded is part of a series. What do you think will happen in the next book? Will you read it? How does reading a series compare with reading a stand-alone book?
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