HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Stranded: Book 1
Authors: Jeff Probst and Chris Tebbetts
Cover Illustrator: Tony Sahara
Publisher: Puffin, 2013
ISBN-13: 978-0147511027 (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 014751102X (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0142424247 (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0142424242 (Paperback)
Related websites: http://www.jeffprobst.com (author), http://www.penguin.com/stranded (publisher)
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 8 – 12
Rating: **** 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Probst, Jeff, and Tebbetts, Chris. Stranded: Book 1 (published in 2013 by Puffin Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group, 345 Hudson St., New York City, NY, a division of Penguin Books). Carter Benson is eleven years old, and his sister Jane is nine. Benjamin, or “Buzz” Diaz is also eleven, and his sister Vanessa is thirteen. Carter and Jane’s mom Beth has recently married Vanessa and Buzz’s dad Eric, so the four have become brothers and sisters. While the parents celebrate their honeymoon in Hawaii, the kids are treated to a vacation trip in the South Pacific on the Lucky Star, the boat of their uncle, Dexter Kingson, to give them a chance to get to know each other better. However, five days out, a terrible storm hits about 900 miles off the coast of Hawaii.
The boat is damaged, and water begins seeping in. Uncle Dex and his first mate Joe Kahali get the life raft ready but before the rest can get into it, a huge wave sweeps it away, with Dex and Joe on it. The Lucky Star continues to drift in the stormy ocean for a good while with the four young people on board until it is cast ashore on the rocks of a deserted jungle atoll where they are now stranded. What happened to Dex and Joe? Will the kids find what they need to survive, such as water to drink? Will they ever get home alive? What will happen to them? I am a sucker for books about being stranded on a deserted Pacific island, so when I saw this New York Times bestseller and its sequel, Trial by Fire, by Jeff Probst, the Emmy-Award winning host of TV’s Survivor, in Wal-Mart, I snatched them up, even though I have never watched Survivor.
A few euphemisms (heck, “omigosh”) occur, and there is one reference to “volcanic explosions over millions of years,” but nothing really offensive is there. One reader reviewer complained that he “couldn’t feel any connection to the characters” because “they didn’t go to deep on their history, or their personalities.” Yet another reviewer noted, “While Buzz and Carter are the same age, they’re very different. Carter is more athletic and active, whereas Buzz prefers to stay below decks. Jane is cute, but too young to be interested in the same things as the others, whereas Vanessa is too old….They represent a range of personalities, somewhat shallowly drawn but easily identified with.” Different people appreciate different things. When I read a children’s book, rather than delve too deeply into detailed literary analysis, I just decide if I like the book or not, and I liked this one. It is surely exciting. I read it all in two days. As someone noted, it is “a terrific high interest, low effort novel.” Anyone can enjoy it, but it might be particularly useful with reluctant readers, whether boys or girls.