I just finished reading this new addition to my Sustained Silent Reading Library. I bought my copy through Amazon. This book follows 17-year-old Caden through a plane explosion which leaves the people on his flight stranded on an island. Of course, this island is seriously crawling with venomous snakes, and it is a real place! I’ve read a lot of books geared towards novice-mid students, and I have to say honestly I didn’t see one of the twists coming! John Sifert definitely shows his expertise in teaching beginning language students with the compelling story he was capable of creating using such simple language. Moreover, the story deftly intertwines murderous plots with solid family values.
From the teacher aspect: this book is on point. There are so many things I love about it. The biggest for me is the pictures. In my opinion, this book has the perfect number of illustrations and pictures. There are just enough to make sure that any student could follow the story if they really wanted to, but also not enough that the pictures tell the whole story alone. Second, it directly addresses accents and dialects in a way that blends well into the story. It always strikes me that English speakers are well aware of the different way that English is spoken regionally, but are somehow completely baffled when any variation of Spanish is brought up. The way he almost sneaks this facet in is fluid and logical, I love it. Finally, as I mentioned before, I totally adore that this is a real place.
Here are the stats that I always want to know:
- 68 pages
- illustrations or pictures about every third page
- 13 chapters that range from one paragraph to seven pages (with illustrations included in page count)
- 10 page glossary
- Fictional story that includes real details about La Isla de la Quemada Grande and the Golden Lancehead snakes.
As I read new books I always try to consider whether they would be better suited towards my SSR library, or if I should hold it back for a whole class read. In this case, I will happily add it to my SSR library. The only difficulty I foresee in class reads is having to plan for having such varied chapter lengths. That being said, the chapter breaks are totally perfect and logical, I would not want them any other way.
In summary: this book is great, I can’t wait to see what Señor Sifert has planned for the next book. It thrills me that this is intended to be a series. I will be keeping my eye out for news on the next book.