Rylant, Cynthia. The Islander. Dorling Kindersley, 1998. ISBN 0-7894-2490-8. $15.00. 97 pp.” 4+ FI Reviewed by Tom Wright My name is Daniel Jennings, and on this day, my twentieth birthday, I wish to make a record of the marvelous things that happened to me when I was a boy. I dedicate it to my grandfather. So reads the dedication of this small masterpiece. In a wonderfully personal way, Daniel does relate the experiences that forever shaped, and saved, his life on the lonely island of Coquille off the coast of British Columbia. The first sentence of the book reads, I was a boy when I met the mermaid “ This may seem to portend something other than what is actually given to the reader. Rylant does not exploit the mermaid. There is only one brief encounter. However, through a series of events and discoveries, she is a constant presence in Daniel’s life. She helps him to grow, heal, and connect with others. Ultimately, she helps him to survive the loss of his grandfather, his only family, and to envision a rich life ahead. Rylant’s prose is simple and rich. She states no more than necessary and that which she does state is beautiful in its brevity. This book will touch many and is sure to be a favorite to be read over again.
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