by William Pene du Bois
listening age: 5+
This story weaves together fact with fiction so unashamedly that the hope is sure to be realized that your young reader will be intrigued and inspired to do some research on his own about the real volcanic blast at Krakatoa: the late 19th century catastrophe that really did blow up a good-sized portion of the small island in the Sunda Strait.
The story here is about a school teacher, Professor William Waterman Sherman, whose 35 years of experience with unruly school children drives him to attempt a 1-year balloon adventure. (Now, don't get all upset! I don't think he hates children, I just think he grew weary of poorly-parented ruffians.)
The book is delightful in its detailed description of the Professor's preparations. But in the course of his impressively stocked flight, an accident happens which lands him on a strange, uninhabited island--that isn't uninhabited at all!
It an exciting read for the fantastic elements of fantasy. It's very imaginative. The narrative promotes hard work, cooperation, integrity, hospitality and--my favorite--manners. Oh, for the love of good manners! *happy sigh*
When I asked Fifi (who has also read the book) to remind me if there were any offensive or objectionable parts to the story, she could only think of the episode in which the Professor crash lands his balloon in the buff! In his defense, he has to--it's well explained as to why and is not in the least gratuitous.
I give this book a "B."