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The Castaway    by James Stevenson order for
by James Stevenson
Order:  USA  Can
Greenwillow, 2002 (2002)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This is a picture book, in cartoon format, aimed at ages 5 and up. It's a lively approach, full of action, and likely to entice kids who enjoy comic books as well as more traditional early readers. It opens on a mouse family heading to the movies in 1937, and anxious about whether the film will be 'too grown-up for Hubie' who (according to big brother) 'always gets scared'. Well he does this time too and I don't blame him. The movie theater plays 'The Island of No Return'. There's an erupting volcano, a gigantic tidal wave and more, giving young Hubie a phobia for islands.

Of course they get a postcard from the 'Tropical Wonderland' of Barabooda Island and, despite Hubie's objections, take flight on a 'gigantic dirigible'. In an engaging variation on what happened to the Home Alone family, Hubie's parents and brother relax and enjoy the view while he (whom they believe to be napping) falls off the airship into the most amazing island adventures with an accomplished Robinson Crusoe castaway, who has set up all kinds of thrilling activities. The family is eventually reunited without the others ever being aware that Hubie was gone - and of course, the experience cured all his fears.

The Castaway is an exciting adventure, fun to read for young and old, but also a tale that can teach a small child to face and overcome his or her fears ... just like Hubie, whose idea for their next vacation is challenging indeed!

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