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The Skeleton Tree Hardcover – January 5, 2016
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Praise for The Skeleton Tree:
“Unsettling and compelling, a gripping, evocative read.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Fans of Hatchet and Lord of the Flies will be drawn to this harrowing survival story from Lawrence (The Winter Pony), which offers psychological suspense and action in equal measure. The boys’ exploration of rugged territory and the mysterious “skeleton tree” with coffins in its branches neatly parallels their individual quests to make sense of recent losses and the lives they have left behind.” —Publishers Weekly
"An emotionally engaging and heart-pounding read." —The Horn Book Review
“This is not a typical survival tale ... the focus is on the rocky and evolving relationship between the two boys. Though Frank is cruel and Chris is innocent, readers come to understand that each boy is much more than he appears.” —School Library Journal
More Praise for Iain Lawrence:
★ "From the evocative jacket painting of a moonlit shipwreck to the superb characterizations, hair-raising plot and authentic period details, Lawrence's fiction is first-rate." —Starred Review, Publishers Weekly
“Fast-moving, mesmerizing, this is a tale in the grand tradition of Robert Louis Stevenson and Leon Garfield.”—The Horn Book Magazine on The Wreckers
About the Author
Iain Lawrence grew up moving all over Canada with his family. He worked in logging, fishing, and even as a forest-fire fighter before studying journalism in Vancouver and working at newspapers for ten years. He is the author of fifteen books for young readers, including this one, and has received many accolades, including the Governor General’s Award and the California Young Reader Medal. He lives in the Gulf Islands with his companion, Kristin, and their dog and cat. He invites you to visit him online at iainlawrence.com.
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This is a pretty creepy book at times, so I don't recommend it for sensitive readers. It's targeted for 8-12 year old children, but I'd recommend it for the upper ages. There are suspenseful moments, heartbreaking moments, gross ones, and just plain creepy ones. It's a story of survival in the wild, though, so maybe that should be expected.
I tend to have a special place in my heart for ravens(and black cats). They have a reputation among the superstitious folks for being bad luck and all. I consider all that nonsense. They're beautiful creatures! I was especially fond of the raven within the story, Thursday. He was precious, and one of the best characters written. His parts, especially in connection with Chris, were my favorite to read.
Frank was hard to deal with. He was so incredibly mean and just plain horrible! So mean, that I didn't even care to read more about him when I first decided to not finish the book. Thankfully, I did finish it, though. As hard as it is to read the parts with him in them(seriously hard, y'all!), he's worth reading to the end and learning more about.
I do have to warn you that this is one of those books that don't really have an ending. You get enough to form one for yourself, so you're not completely left hanging. (I hate those kinds of endings!) While I'd have liked a bit more, I was mostly left satisfied.
In the end, this is a great book for younger readers that aren't overly sensitive. There's plenty of action and adventure to keep most readers satisfied.
Frank and Chris have a terrible relationship, with Frank bullying the younger Chris relentlessly, calling him dumb*** incessantly, and doing anything he can to demean him and make his life difficult. They eventually come to an understanding following some unexpected reveals that change both their lives. They are both fascinating characters, and watching them grow and their relationship develop was perhaps the most gripping part of this novel.
The story is fast paced, and Chris' encounter with the bear is some of the best adventure/action writing I have encountered. There are enough psychological nuance here to keep older readers interested, and enough true adventure to keep the book rolling. The publisher recommends this for ages 8-12, but that is so totally wrong! This is a great book for ages 12 and up, but due to the dark imagery and the repeated profanity, I would not recommend it for elementary students.
The main character is stranded after their boat sinks, and he's stranded with someone who's antisocial. He's a nice kid and stranded with a bully. There is no civilization but they find a small stranded cabin. Their fight to survive against nature is basically the whole book.
But their fight to survive eventually pull the two boys closer. And the interesting thing, is that they never change too much. The bully still has a lot of the same characteristics, but the other boy sees them a little different. The bully does eventually open up more and let the main character in his life. The main character gets stronger and stands up for himself more. The relationship seems really real.
I don't want to give up much, but I'm not sad I read the book. I liked it. It is bleak and depressing, but it's a good story about trying to survive in a bleak and depressing situation with someone you don't get along with--and learning to make the best of it.
Oh, and I really like the raven head on the cover, but I didn't see it till I finished the book. Is it obvious? Before I realized it, I looked at the cover and kept wondering why the cliff hangs over so far...
Lawrence takes little time with the preliminaries, plunging the reader quickly into the survivor dilemma. Washed ashore in a wilderness, two boys, 12 and 15, are reluctant companions who must quickly learn how to feed and shelter themselves.
The writer quickly overcame my initial skepticism about boys so young and untrained in wilderness skills being able to learn enough to keep themselves alive. He added enough heart-stopping moments to make it impossible for me to put the book down. Over it all was a sad but believable story about two young lives shadowed by childhood mysteries, maturing and deepening as they coped with all that was thrown at them.
As a former librarian, I still believe the test of a good young adult book is whether or not anyone old enough to understand it can enjoy it. This one passed that test with flying colors.