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January 17, 2009

Abel’s Island

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Abel’s Island

Author: William Steig

Page Length: 118

Reading Level: 5

Genre: Fiction-Fantasy     

PLOT SUMMARY: Abelard Hassam di Chirico Flint is a wealthy mouse that is swept away in a storm while trying to retrieve his wife’s scarf.  He finds himself on an island that is across the river and down a waterfall from his home.  He immediately tries to build a raft, and then a boat, and lastly a ship, which will help him cross the river which is ravaged with high currents and waves.  None of these attempts are successful, so he is stranded on the island for a year.  He finds food, builds statues and avoids death by an owl, but Abel yearns for his loving wife and family.  After a cold winter, Gower, an old great-granddaddy frog, joins him on the island.  They become dear friends, but Gower soon feels the urge to travel home.  Abel pleads with him to send someone after him, but in Gower’s old age, he forgets about Abel. So, Abel must find new sources to aid him in his return home.

REVIEW: This is a delightful book in which the narrator creates vivid illustrations of the world in which Abel is stranded.  It is an easy read and a good book to use for descriptive writing or a comparison/contrast assignment between humans and animals.  The movie, Cast Away, could be viewed to show the comparison of how a human and a mouse adapt to being stranded on an island and what they must do to survive.

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: Abel gets drunk on wine (p. 85) but for the junior high or high school student, I don’t think this element in the book would be offensive.

AREAS OF TEACHING: Descriptive writing, Symbols, Setting, Theme, Character, and Compare/Contrast

RELATED BOOKS: Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little

MOVIE CONNECTIONS: Cast Away (2000), Charlotte’s Web (2006)


REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

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