The Island of Dr. Libris by Chris Grabenstein proved to be quite popular with many of the t-ls saying that it had been well received in their schools. Some were also keen to try Grabenstein’s earlier novel Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library if they had missed buying it in 2014. It was thought that this was an adventure story that would appeal to both boys and girls.
We based our discussion around the idea of imagination, focusing on the quote,
I’m afraid we adults lose our capacity for imaginative flights of fancy as we age. That’s why you and your mind are such treasures, Billy.
The idea of being isolated without access to technology, while not a new idea in literature, provided a good launching point for Grabenstein to create a vast and chaotic mix of literary characters.
Billy, what do you think kids did back before video games or TV or even electricity?”
“I don’t know. Cried a lot?” …
“No Billy. They read books. They made up stories and games. They took nothing and turned it into something.
Although many children today do play imaginative games we felt that there were a lot more distractions for 21st century children and multiple forms of entertainment competing for their time.
It was thought that Grabenstein included a good assortment of heroes and villains and that the Sheriff of Nottingham was a particular stand-out. We talked about how we felt reading about characters from books that we loved as a child, especially Pollyanna. Some of the group thought the situations, at times, seemed a little forced but we acknowledged that the intended age group may not have that same reaction. In particular it was considered that the potential reunion of the parents may have been contrived, although we did recognise that Billy has the realisation that,
Maybe Mom and Dad have to do that part on their own, to choose to stick together.
We loved the inclusion of the list of all the books that were referred to, but were unsure whether or not it would inspire our readers to go further and read the originals – only time will tell. Overall it has been borrowed most often by readers in years 5 and 6 but was considered to be a read that your good readers from year 4 up would enjoy.