Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder Blog Tour

Once again, I am thrilled to support another amazing book published by Walden Pond Press... Be sure to scroll all the way down to enter to win a copy of the book from the publisher. I received an advance copy of the book from the publisher, but my thoughts are all my own. 

Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder
To be published by Walden Pond Press on  May 30, 2017
ISBN-13: 978-0062443410

On the island, everything is perfect. The sun rises in a sky filled with dancing shapes; the wind, water, and trees shelter and protect those who live there; when the nine children go to sleep in their cabins, it is with full stomachs and joy in their hearts. And only one thing ever changes: on that day, each year, when a boat appears from the mist upon the ocean carrying one young child to join them—and taking the eldest one away, never to be seen again.

Today’s Changing is no different. The boat arrives, taking away Jinny’s best friend, Deen, replacing him with a new little girl named Ess, and leaving Jinny as the new Elder. Jinny knows her responsibility now—to teach Ess everything she needs to know about the island, to keep things as they’ve always been. But will she be ready for the inevitable day when the boat will come back—and take her away forever from the only home she’s known?

My Thoughts: 

This book appealed to so many of my “reading self” layers…

Book lover:

I adored the fact that the Island had a library, and I loved trying to figure out which books they were discussing and reading. They don’t mention any titles, but some were obvious and some were trickier. I also loved that they gave books that completely fell apart a special burial. The kids on the Island knew how important and special books are, and even made sure that each child was taught to read and write.

Reluctant Childhood Leaver:

Some children are ready and eager to move into their teenage years. Those kids jump into middle school and barely wave goodbye to their little selves. That was absolutely not me. Jinny watching, puzzled, as Deen eagerly heads out into the unknown resonated with my own preteen self. Jinny spends the next year trying to figure out how she’ll know she’s ready… and then still isn’t.

I was the child who wept when the older children were told they weren’t going to be able to go back to Narnia. I recognized that I was being pushed out of childhood, just like they were, and I was devastated. I love that this book showcases Jinny’s uncertainty. Not being sure you are ready to take on bigger responsibilities and explore the wider world is a perspective I think will also resonate with many of my upper elementary readers.

Ambiguity Seeker:

I won’t give too much away, but I do want you to know that many of the mysterious elements in this book will not be resolved for you as a reader. Laurel Snyder gives us the chance to come to some of our own conclusions about the nature and history of the Island. This kind of open-ended narrative is powerful for readers, and leaves open the possibility of many rich discussions and “pondering” time.


I debated whether or not to use the word feminist here, but I’m leaving it. To me, feminism is about allowing everyone the chance to take whatever role they want for themselves. Do you want to be a nurturer? It doesn’t matter what your gender is. Do you struggle with a nurturing role? It doesn’t matter what your gender is. Do you want adventure? You get the idea.

In Orphan Island, all of the children are expected to take their turn in every type of role. They all help gather food. They all help cook. The Elder orphan is expected to take on the youngest child as their “Care”; teaching and nurturing that child. Jinny struggles with her role as the teacher and nurturer, even though she absolutely cares about the little girl who becomes her responsibility. I loved seeing that.


I also empathized with many of Jinny's concerns in her caregiving role. She was so cautious with her Care because she didn’t want to see the child hurt.  We know that real learning requires risk, but it is so hard to let our children go into situations that could be dangerous in any way. I know that can be incredibly frustrating to our children, and maybe seeing Jinny have these same struggles will help them gain some understanding and empathy for their own parents. 

Overall, I absolutely loved Orphan Island. It was a tale that included adventure, wish fulfillment, and a touch of the mysterious. This book should appeal to students in 5th grade and up. I can’t wait to have my students read it and see what they think!

Don't just rely on MY judgement.... These are the authors of some of my other recent favorite books.... 

Praise for Orphan Island:
“Laurel Snyder has written a story that curls around the heart and pulls in tight—a meditation on the power and wisdom and closeness and sorrow of childhood. A wondrous book, wise and wild and deeply true. I loved every second of it.”
                  Kelly Barnhill, Newbery Medal-winning author of The Girl Who Drank the Moon

“An elegant and thoughtful meditation on the joys and sorrows of growing up, with lyrical prose, characters that feel as alive as your dearest friends, and a vivid setting sure to enchant young readers. A work of extraordinary heart.”
                 Claire Legrand, author of Some Kind of Happiness

“A visionary, poignant, astonishingly lovely fable of childhood and change. This is a book to lose yourself in, and to never forget.”
                 Anne Ursu, author of The Real Boy

Laurel Snyder’s Bio:
Laurel Snyder is a poet, essayist, and author of picture books and novels for children, including Orphan IslandCharlie and MouseBigger than a Bread Box, and Swan, the Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova. She is also a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and a faculty member of Hamline University's MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. She lives in Atlanta with her family and can be found online at www.laurelsnyder.com.

Check out the other tour stops for more information and other chances to win!

Blog Tour Stops

May 15
May 16

May 17
May 18
May 19
May 20
May 21
May 22
May 23
May 24
May 25
May 26


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