Trial by Fire: Stranded, Book 2

Book review by
Kate Pavao, Common Sense Media
Trial by Fire: Stranded, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Pace picks up in second book of Survivor host's kid series.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers will learn about basic survival skills, including how to make fire without matches and the importance of always boiling found water, how to build a makeshift camp, and signal a plane flying overhead.

Positive Messages

There is a message here about learning to work together. Readers also get the idea that each person has her or his own unique strengths.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters sometimes fight and make poor choices, but they do take care of each other when they are sick or in trouble -- and try to establish a fair system for keeping order.

Violence & Scariness

Kids are stuck on an island without food, water, or shelter: Wild boars attack them, one boy gets sick from contaminated water, a brother and sister each fall from a log bridge, a boy slices his hand trying to recover supplies from a sunken boat, a girl scrapes her knees falling in a cave. A girl finds the bones of a dead person.

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is the second book in a series written by the executive producer of the Survivor TV series. It features four kids -- two sets of siblings whose parents have recently married -- who are stranded on a deserted island after a boat crash. There they face constant peril: Wild boars attack them, one boy gets sick from contaminated water, a brother and sister each fall from a log bridge -- and a girl finds the bones of a human skeleton. While the characters sometimes fight, there's a message here about learning to work together. Readers also get the idea that each person has her or his own unique strengths.

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What's the story?

TRIAL BY FIRE continues the story that began with Stranded: Four new step-siblings -- two pairs of siblings -- survive a boat crash only to find themselves alone on a deserted island without food, water, or shelter. In this installment, they learn to make fire, build a makeshift camp, and even try to signal a plane they see circling above. They also face constant peril: Jane is knocked down by a stampede of wild boars, while Connor throws up all night after drinking bad water. A revelation lays the groundwork for the next book in the series.

Is it any good?

This installment in the Stranded series moves at a much better pace than the lackluster first book. Readers will quickly move with the characters from one adventure to the next, and they will even learn some things along the way, such as how to make fire without matches -- and the importance of always boiling found water. The authors do a nice job of giving each of the characters his or her own strengths; even un-athletic Buzz has many survival skills, which he picked up from watching reality TV shows. The cliffhanger at the end will certainly entice fans to pick up the next book (due in November 2013).

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what they would do first if they were stranded on an island: start a fire, build a shelter, explore -- or something else? What special skills (or equipment) would be most useful to you?

  • Can you think of other books or movies you've seen about kids or adults stuck on islands? Why is this an intriguing idea for so many of us?

  • Why would the host and executive producer of Survivor, Jeff Probst, be interested in writing this series? Do you think his name helped the first book in the series become a bestseller on the New York Times' list?

  • What do you think will happen next? Do you plan to read the next book, titled Survivors?

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