Lost on Hope Island:
The Amazing Tale of the Little Goat Midwives

by Patricia Harman

Flying Squirrel Press, 2016. ISBN 978-0-997-39410-8.
Reviewed by Martha Meacham
Posted on 02/01/2017

Teen/Girls; Kids

Patricia Harman has aptly titled this children's book, Lost on Hope Island: The Amazing Tale of the Little Goat Midwives, for it is truly an amazing story! It is a book you can read to children and enjoy, or it would be good for the independent pre-teen to teen readers in the house.

Of course I would love this wonderful story! I loved the Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell when I was a child, and Living on the Earth by Alicia Bay Laurel as a young adult homesteader. A common theme of these two books and Lost on Hope Island is that of of young female characters comfortable in a natural habitat, using a common-sense approach to being self-sufficient. Lost on Hope Island portrays children who exhibit a desire to explore and learn, along with the ability to appreciate simple pleasures and display confidence, no matter the living conditions. In this remarkable tale, the scenarios for these life lessons are based on interdependence between siblings and a symbiotic relationship with the natural world, together with a strong dose of independent thinking.

The plot is a simple one, relevant to us all, really. How would you survive this situation? Do you have basic skills to build fire, shelter and find water and food? In the setting of a deserted island, would you be resourceful enough to find what you need? These lessons on how to subsist off-grid are presented from the point-of-view of a young girl and her brother.

The adult reader may recognize Patricia Harman as the author of non-fiction as well as fictional books, on a subject she knows best: midwifery. You will find bits and pieces of her vast knowledge included in this children's tale, too. The main characters of the story, Trillium and her brother, Jacob, recall midwife lessons learned from both their mom and grandmother as they interact with the goats-gone-wild on the island. If you know children who like animals, enjoy playing outside and have active imaginations with a penchant for adventure, this tale will likely appeal to them.

The goats on the island deservedly become their own characters in the story. Despite their ornery nature, goats have earned a soft spot in my heart because I know them on my homestead. Not just utilitarian, they do have the potential to be companionable pets. Readers will learn more about goats!

The author intentionally depicts many values of the hippie era, such as harmony with nature and interdependence with wildlife with direct references to that era. This aspect may appeal to Grandma as a way to spend time with the grandchildren and share some of her own wonderful tales!

If you haven't read Patricia Harman's other books, you are missing out on some good storytelling! She is a seasoned writer. From her memoir, Blue Cotton Gown to her historical novels, her stories incorporate what she has learned since beginning as a lay midwife on rural communes in the 60's and 70's. Later she became a nurse-midwife and has published in scholarly journals, as well. She lives near Morgantown, West Virginia. Visit her website.

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