Island Kids
by Tara Saracuse

Brindle & Glass, 2010. ISBN 978-1-897-14243-1.
Reviewed by Susan M. Andrus
Posted on 03/26/2010

Teen/Girls; Fiction: Multi-Cultural; Fiction: Historical

Have you ever wished that you could turn back the time and live in a place two hundred, or even two thousand, years ago? Tara Saracuse fulfills this wish by giving us a peek into the lives of children living on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, in earlier times.

Island Kids, written for children, but equally interesting for this adult, shows how children lived before Europeans arrived in North America and on through the years of colonization, industrialization, and commerce, up to the present day. Saracuse relies on first-person sources whenever she can locate them to construct stories based on these reports.

The result is a collection of short, easy-reading fiction accompanied by a map showing the locations for each story. But even more, Saracuse follows each story with a section called "What do we know for sure?" that explains her source for the story, what historical facts surround the story, and how she wove first-person sources into the narrative.

Each well-crafted story shows a child experiencing life in his or her environment. The first story, "The Raven, the Clam, and the Kids: Two Haida Cousins in Ancient Times," relates a tale from the First Nations Haida people's oral traditions of how human beings came to live on Vancouver Island and the nearby Gulf Islands. "Escape from Alcatraz" shows how Delmar and Murphy Johnnie and another boy escaped from an island residential school in a leaky canoe and paddled and hiked their way back to their grandmother's home in search of a good meal, for a change.

Twenty-two stories make up this collection showing how children lived during the time that Vancouver Island has been inhabited. These stories offer suspense, creativity, and age-appropriate adventures for children.

Tara Saracuse lives in Victoria, BC with her grey cat, Mitch, and her partner, Steve. She is a student in the Creative Writing program at the University of Victoria, and plans to continue her education by pursuing a master's degree. Island Kids is Tara's first book—and she hopes that it is the first of many. She is passionate about children's literature, and plans to continue writing both non-fiction and fiction. Visit her website.

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