The Boy, The Boat, and the Beast by Samantha Clark - book review

Publisher's Synopsis: "The Graveyard Book meets Hatchet in this eerie novel about a boy who is stranded on a mysterious beach, from debut author Samantha M. Clark. A boy washes up on a mysterious, seemingly uninhabited beach. Who is he? How did he get there? The boy can’t remember. When he sees a light shining over the foreboding wall of trees that surrounds the shore, he decides to follow it, in the hopes that it will lead him to answers. The boy’s journey is a struggle for survival and a search for the truth—a terrifying truth that once uncovered, will force him to face his greatest fear of all if he is to go home. This gripping adventure will have readers hooked until its jaw-dropping and moving conclusion. Samantha M. Clark’s first novel heralds the arrival of an exciting new voice.”

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?
Age: 8-12
Pages: 256

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
ISBN: 9781534412552

BUY The Boy, the Boat, and the Beast HERE

You can read more about Author Samantha Clark on her website: HERE 

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