Middle Grade Review of Jack the Castaway (The Berenson Schemes #1)

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Jack the Castaway (The Berenson Schemes #1) by Lisa Doan and Ivica Stavanovic

Age Range: 9-12

Reading Level: 4

Series: Berenson Schemes (Book 1)

Hardcover: 152 pages

Publisher: Darby Creek Publishing (January 1, 2014)

Genre: Humor/survival

Source: Publisher via NetGalley

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My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

About the Book:

Jack’s parents have been chased out of Tokyo, gone broke in Greece, and hosted Nairobi’s least successful safari. Next they’re taking Jack on a Caribbean vacation—whether Jack wants to go or not. The Berensons are about to start a snorkeling business. It’s their latest get-rich-quick scheme. With these experienced world travelers at the helm, what could go wrong?


Jack’s used to staying indoors and not taking chances. When his parents take him out on the water, he ends up shipwrecked. Now Jack has to survive on a tropical island…and avoid a whale shark that’s swimming near the beach.

About the Author:

Lisa Doan received a master’s degree in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. As a professional vagabond, she has traveled extensively through Africa and Asia and lived on a Caribbean island for eight years. Her variety of professions have included Master Scuba Diving Instructor, New York City headhunter, Owner/Chef of a Chinese restaurant, television show Set Medic and Deputy Prothonotary of a county court. She wrote her first book during a Caribbean slow season while waiting for restaurant customers. She currently lives in Pennsylvania with a Great Dane who stares her down for biscuits.

My Thoughts:

Jack’s parents are a disaster. They jump from one get-rich-quick scheme to the next, searching for their golden ticket that will make them wealthy enough to buy Jack a pony. Jack, who doesn’t even like ponies, is up tight and paranoid. He likes school, rules, and order.  Regardless of their differences, Jack goes with his parents on their latest adventure/disaster. After a series of irresponsible choices made by his parents, Jack finds himself stranded on an uninhabited island.  He learns to survive while waiting for his easily distracted parents to come rescue him.

This is a short, quick read for kids starting on chapter books. It’s humorous and entertaining. The irresponsible parent theme is quite popular in chapter books and it continues to be a funny scenario, having the parent/child roles reversed. Jack and his parents grow as characters as the story progresses. The parents learn to be more responsible and Jack learns to ease up a bit. They all learn to work together to create a system that works for their family.

Jack the Castaway didn’t blow me away, but it was a decent story. Kids will enjoy the humor and the adventure/survival scenes.

Source: The publisher provided me with a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
 
Content: Clean 

 4 STARS

 

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