My Two Cents: To pigeonhole The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast as an "adventure" or even a "mystery" is way too simple. To call it "horror" might be a bit closer; to call it a "coming-of-age" tale, still closer yet. Here's what I do know about this new book... kids are going to love the mystery and the adventure and are going to be gobsmacked at the ending not really being a mystery adventure at all.
The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast has wide appeal for many readers. In fact, strong third grade readers all the way to deep-thinking middle schoolers are going to be passing this one around to their friends. I can't tell you too much specifically without giving away the ending, but the story begins with a single character - a boy with amnesia, washed ashore on an island. Then, the internal monologued "bully," seems to take on it's own character and the once narrator reveals himself a character. There are also various setting inhabitants, either real or imagined by the boy; it's all very mysterious and all very other-worldly. I'm not certain that every kid will 'get' that there is something much bigger going on here as early as adult readers will, but when they do.... well, I expect quite a few shocked and puzzled faces thinking back and saying aloud, "oh!".
This title is recommended for classroom shelves from 3rd - 7th. I imagine most libraries will need at least a couple copies once word of mouth impacts circulation.
Just a few quick teaching thoughts:
With regard to that narrator that becomes part of the story........
The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast would be excellent as a mentor text for teaching point of view and how that narrator influences the plot/story.
(CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.5.6 Describe how a narrator's or speaker's point of view influences how events are described.
Or for 6th: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.6.6 Explain how an author develops the point of view of the narrator or speaker in a text.)
In 7th grade I would spend more time thinking about how the story unfolds, analyzing the developments that lead the reader to "knowing" the ending.
(CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.7.2 Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text. and/or CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.7.3 Analyze how particular elements of a story or drama interact)
Note: The book's Lexile is coming in at a very low 500L, but all of these standards fall within the 5th, 6th, 7th range. Without getting into a reading war debate, let's just leave it right there and sigh.
-----------------------------------------------Genre: Mystery? Adventure? Horror? Coming-of-Age?
Themes: Being one's own hero, Overcoming self-doubt, Making difficult decisions, Family Dysfunction
Character Development: If you've seen Tom Hanks in Castaway or Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense, you'll get the idea... excellent character development for protagonist
Plot Engagement: One Boy. Alone. An Island. Could have easily been a dud.... But we have bully voice, and narrator, and memories, and imagination. So much going on here; readers won't want to put it down!
Originality: Here is where this book has a chance to win a prize. I cannot think of another tale like it; hitting so many genres, playing with complex emotions and psychologies....
Believability: While I feel the majority in this age demographic will be fine, I also think many adult readers will figure this one out pretty quickly. Not to say the writing isn't good, it is, but I did find myself popped out of the story a few times.
Thank You to NetGalley for my advanced digital copy, along with publisher Simon & Schuster for making it available.
Date: June 26, 2018
BUY The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast HERE
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