Nine children, all orphans, live on an otherwise deserted island. Every year, a green boat comes in with a new kid. Every year, the oldest child, designated the Elder, must get in the boat and be sent away. This year it’s Jinny’s turn to be the elder, not only leading the island, but taking charge of the new child, Ess, teaching her to fend for herself. The problem is that Jinny is not a great teacher, and she’s missing Deen, and hey, what would happen if the rules were broken? Deceptively simple in concept, Orphan Island is a fascinating story, filled with great world-building, a sympathetic-yet-flawed heroine, and endless philosophical detours. It was pitched to me as a Lost for kids, and I still think it’s a perfect description. I offer a warning that there are no pat answers in the story, and while I certainly didn’t mind that and I don’t think most kids would either, I can imagine a type of adult that would find the whole thing disturbing. And I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.— Daniel Goldin
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, RickRiordan.com
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?