From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8–In a chronological account of the life of a privateer, two of eight chapters describe Selkirk's solitary, four-year survival on Juan Fernandez, an island 360 miles west of Chile. The book also includes the sailor's rescue and his return to Scotland. The final chapter discusses Daniel Defoe's attempt to use the man's records to create a literary work (Robinson Crusoe
) that would pay his mounting debts. Pencil-drawn maps clearly show the locations of Selkirk's voyages. Reference to his temper stops in chapter one, after which he becomes a Bible-reading naturalist, wise navigator, and solitary individual longing for his island home. The book leaves out the historical possibilities that he committed himself in marriage to two women, struggled with alcoholism, and left again for sea after nearly killing a man in a fight. This compelling, if not entirely factual, book features a character about whom little has been written for children. Its greatest merit lies in the chapters that explain privateering and the war between England and Spain.–Julie R. Ranelli, Episcopal Center for Children, Washington, DC
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Gr. 5-8. This attractive little book offers the true survival story of the man who inspired Defoe's novel Robinson Crusoe
. In 1704, English sailing master Alexander Selkirk was marooned on Juan Fernandez, an isolated Pacific island. There he hunted seals, fashioned primitive tools, made clothes from goatskins, read his Bible, and made peace with his lot. In 1709, two English ships rescued him, hired him as a second mate, and later captured a Spanish treasure ship. Selkirk returned to London a wealthy man, though he never regained the peace of mind he had found on his island. Kraske offers a well-focused look at life in several quite different settings during the early eighteenth century as well as an absorbing telling of Selkirk's story. Parker contributes a full-page illustration at the beginning of each chapter and a small decorative drawing that reappears throughout the account. The book ends with a glossary, a bibliography, and an informative note concerning Juan Fernandez Island today and Kraske's research. Carolyn PhelanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved