Orphan Island

Orphan Island

eBook - 2017
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Baker & Taylor
Living on an idyllic but sinister island where one child is delivered each year while the eldest is taken away, nine children share bountiful food and security under the leadership of new elder Jinny, who trains the latest newcomer and wonders what will happen when her own departure occurs. By the award-winning author of Bigger Than a Breadbox. Simultaneous eBook. 35,000 first printing.


A National Book Award Longlist title!

"A wondrous book, wise and wild and deeply true." —Kelly Barnhill, Newbery Medal-winning author of The Girl Who Drank the Moon

"This is one of those books that haunts you long after you read it. Thought-provoking and magical." —Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson series

In the tradition of modern-day classics like Sara Pennypacker's Pax and Lois Lowry's The Giver comes a deep, compelling, heartbreaking, and completely one-of-a-kind novel about nine children who live on a mysterious island.

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?

"A unique and compelling story about nine children who live with no adults on a mysterious island. Anyone who has ever been scared of leaving their family will love this book" (from the Brightly.com review, which named Orphan Island a best book of 2017).

Publisher: New York : HarperCollins, 2017
ISBN: 9780062443434
Branch Call Number: eBook
Characteristics: 1 online resource
text file
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc


From the critics

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Feb 25, 2019

I gave 3 stars because I couldn't put this book down. I had to know how it ended and where they go on the boat. There were so many questions, so many things I wanted to know.


None of the questions get answered.
I finished this book at 3am, so irritated I just wasted my time. I get that there's a metaphor here, but why place so many clues with no answers? Not worth my time.

Jan 16, 2019

This book is very clearly an allegory for childhood & the transition into adolescence & puberty, but it was very unsatisfying to me. It would have been brilliant as a short story, where loose ends can be left trailing, but for a full-length novel, there were too many questions introduced that never got answered.

Every year, a green boat comes to the island where nine children live. It contains a small child (around the age of 4) who has come to live on the island. The Eldest child then gets in the boat and leaves. No one knows where the children come from, nor where they go when they leave. Do they have parents? Are they orphans? Who would send their children to live like this on their own? The children have to teach each new arrival how to cook, swim, read, and care for themselves on the island. The island is a paradise. Nothing will kill you. The fruits are all edible. Eggs, nuts, berries, and fish are gathered for food. There is a cabin that has clothing and another containing books. (Although nothing is ever replenished, and if it's gone, it's gone.) There are notes written in the margins of the books by the first girl who was on the island. She came when she was much older than when children now arrive, and was aware of her parents. Who was she? Why did she get sent to the island? WHERE is this island? How does it *work*? NONE of this is resolved.

Now that a new child has arrived and the previous Eldest has left, Jinny is now the Eldest, and frankly, she's a poor one. Her job is to take care of the new child, as well as teach the second-oldest how to care for the child who will be arriving next. She tends to fail on both fronts. Additionally, Jinny struggles with entering puberty with no one to answer her questions.
While next oldest child, Ben, offers to talk to her, she feels unable to confide in him. While I can understand the book mirroring the isolation many teens feel, it was frustrating that the *entire system* set up within the book was intentionally so. It doesn't *have* to be that way.

When it's Jinny's time to leave, she chooses not to. There are Rules on the island, and this is one of the main ones. When a new child arrives, the oldest leaves. When Jinny stays, things on the island start to change. Creatures that were once safe no longer are. The weather, always perfect, becomes stormy and cold. Again, *none* of this is explained. Again, this would be an awesome short story, but is incredibly frustrating in a 288 page book.

Lots of other people have truly loved this book. I'm not one of them. If you think that I'm just a grumpy curmudgeon and want to read it anyway, I'm sure it will be fine. It wasn't actively BAD. Just unsatisfying.

Jul 03, 2018


I love the mysteriousness in this book, of how you don't know where the orphans come from or where they go. I like the emotion in the book and how you can feel what their feeling. This book is definitely page-turning, I could have finished it in one day but..... I had school.

I recommend this book if you like mystery and adventure!

Apr 15, 2018


ArapahoeKati Feb 23, 2018

I liked the premise of the story but the execution (and ending) fell unexpectedly flat for me.

JCLChrisK Feb 12, 2018

I'm afraid I struggled to find the magic in this fable. Others I know who have read it have struggled to suspend their disbelief around its fableness--all the unanswered questions and mysteries about the context for the story, for its setting and greater world. That didn't bother me. What I wondered about was the internal world of the island, the interpersonal dynamics between the characters, their thoughts and motivations and emotions and reactions. Much of it just didn't feel quite authentic to me, and I couldn't connect with them. So many who've commented on this book have clearly found it magical. I would like to have had that experience with it. Instead, all I can offer is an interested appreciation. And a suggestion to try for yourself, because I don't know anyone who hasn't been provoked to some type of animated response.

mandaladreamer Feb 10, 2018

The other reviews give lots of details about the plot and characterization of this story, and it's true that it's well-written and fascinating. But the unanswered questions that build throughout the story demand that the conclusion will answer at least some of those questions, and that simply does not happen. Ultimately, this leaves the reader frustrated and unsatisfied. If you're going to introduce a cast of nine orphans, say something about why they are orphans and why they are sent to this place to grow up and then later magically sent back to where they came from. Finding a letter from a previous resident of the island should provide a clue about finding these answers, but no, that seems to be an isolated event and we are left completely in the dark. I definitely would not recommend this to a kid, because I think books for children should have a conclusion that makes some kind of sense even if it's set in an alternative kind of world. There was no hint that there would even be a sequel. It's one of those "throw it across the room when you're finished" books.

KCLS_RobinH Dec 04, 2017

This is a weird book, with an angsty protagonist who is difficult to like. I'd dub this 'Lost' for kids, but with a bit less violence, and all of the weird magic and lack of explanation for the premise.

Nov 14, 2017

I enjoyed this book but the end was really confusing and that is why my rating is 3 stars, but i like the simplicity as well as the characters. over all, this was a really good book

Oct 27, 2017

A very interesting story, but a bit slow for me to give it more than 3 stars. I was left with a lot of unanswered questions.

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Apr 15, 2018

H21415800 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

Feb 09, 2018

booknrrd thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over


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