Straight Talk for Librarians: The author did so many things in this book that stood out to me. One of the things I loved was the references to stories, where the boys found themselves in a similar situation: Robinson Crusoe, Treasure Island and Moby-Dick. I think the references to these books will make some enthusiastic readers seek these older titles out. There are also a lot of emotional moments that these boys deal with. Some are heart breaking, but might help some readers identify with these characters. Clearly, some of the boys made some bad choices and that is why they ended up at a reform school, but it doesn’t have to define who they become. Maybe readers will see that it’s a good thing to open up and talk about their feelings and emotions with friends who don’t judge them. A lot of educators are talking about social and emotional learning and this book would be a good tie into that...in a non-preachy, suspenseful, adventurous kind of way. This would be a great book to put into the hand of a student heading “up north” in Michigan because of the lighthouse. How fun is it to read a story about a lighthouse, while visiting one??? If you are in an IB school, there are so many characters that can lead to an amazing discussion on the different attributes of the Learner Profile. For example, Colin was very principled in his stance and didn’t waver on his belief. He was knowledgeable about a lot of things and he was very caring because he looked out for his friends. This is also a great choice for readers who love a fast-paced, heart pounding adventure. This is a great purchase for a middle school library.
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Review by Klaudia Janek @kjanek