The Islander

by Cynthia Rylant and Richard Jackson

As a boy, Daniel Jennings did not feel at home on the small island off the coast... read more

As a boy, Daniel Jennings did not feel at home on the small island off the coast of British Columbia where he lived with his grandfather. He wanted to know all the things he was missing in the larger world. His grandfather's love was strong and certain, but it could not console this longing. Then one day Daniel sees a mermaid on the beach, glistening and beautiful and as shy as Daniel himself. She disappears quickly but later Daniel finds a key inside a seashell and he knows it is a gift from her. He never gives up hope of seeing her again but in the meantime the key--magical and mysterious--becomes Daniel's talisman. He wears it around his neck and whenever it vibrates it leads him without fail to something or someone in need, from an injured animal to a lost child. Over the years, with the help of the key, he begins to feel part of the island--part of its natural life, and part of the small community of people who inhabit it. It unlocks his heart, and in doing so it leads him to a deeper understanding of what it means to be at home. Cynthia Rylant's sea- swept fantasy, told in the calm, centered voice of the adult Daniel, sustains an element of mystery as well as it unravels the secret of the mermaid, and the truth about Daniel's heart. (Age 9-12)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1998

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