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February is Family Book Festival month at Jump Into a Book!
Family Book Festival is a project to help chase away the doldrums of winter by jumping into the favorite books of our author, illustrator, blogger friends. It’s our hope that, not only will we provide reading families with amazing new booklists and activities, but also give the parents a chance to experience a blissful walk down memory lane as they share favorite books from their childhood.
Today we’re joined by Sonia Dalal from KiteReaders.
Sonia loves to read as much as I do. Sonia spends her days being a cheer-leader for the great line up of authors, illustrators, and books that KiteReaders produces and distributes.
What was your her favorite book as a child?
Choosing my favorite book to read as a child is like asking me to pick my favorite brand of dark chocolate. It is very hard. However, one particular book does come to mind that is very near and dear to my heart. Abel’s Island, written by the popular and much loved children’s author William Steig, is the story of a newly wed, high-class mouse named Abel who is forced to survive on an island after a terrible storm.
The story begins quite innocently with Abel and his wife, Amanda, who are having a lovely picnic in the woods. However, their world is quickly turned around when they find themselves in the middle of a hurricane. They try to wait out the storm in a small cave when, suddenly, a strong wind rips the scarf Amanda is wearing from her neck. Without thinking, Abel hurls himself into the storm in an attempt to retrieve it. He succeeds, but soon finds that he is no match for the roaring winds and rain. After what seems like hours, Abel finds himself on an island completely alone. No family. No friends. No Amanda.
Thus begins Abel’s yearlong survival on the island. With only a pocketknife, the clothes on his back, and Amanda’s scarf, Abel faces countless obstacles and learns how to survive in the wilderness.
Now, I won’t give away the details of the book (because that is the juicy part), nor will I give away the ending (because you have to read it!), but I will say that Abel’s journey on his little island enchanted me from the moment I received it in my first “book order” in first grade. I fell in love with Abel’s story, taking pleasure in the moments he overcame obstacles and sympathizing when he was overcome with defeat.
I learned an incredible lesson from his tale (no pun intended). I came to admire Abel’s courage and everlasting perseverance. Abel taught me to never give up, especially when it is hard. Cheesy (I swear I’m not making these puns on purpose), I know, but it is very true.
The most rewarding part of reading about Abel’s victories and losses on the island was witnessing the transformation he went through. From being a high-class city mouse who once had everything done for him, Abel now had to do everything for himself. I loved how Abel slowly came to marvel at his own work and appreciate the beauty of nature around him. It was as if he shed a kind of skin that he had become accustomed to wearing, revealing a mouse that he did not know was there.
My copy of Abel’s Island still sits on my bookshelf today. Though its cover is bent, frayed along the edges, and taped down its spine, it is one of my most cherished books in my collection. To think that I may not have met Abel and read his story is almost unbelievable, for I have grown up reading this book countless times over the years. And each time, I find myself connecting with Abel just a little bit more as he faces each challenge. Maybe it has something to do with growing up. Or maybe it is simply because I could not quite grasp the complexity of Abel’s obstacles as a six year old. Maybe it is both.
Whatever the reason, this book is meant to be read over and over again for years to come, for there is much to be learned from William’s Steig’s courageous, young mouse. I know I have.
Something to Do: Imagination Time
Activity: What would YOU Do?
Imagine that you are in Abel’s position. You are on an island with nothing but a pocketknife, your clothes, the stuff in your pockets, and a pink scarf. Where would you go for shelter? What kinds of things would you need to make yourself to help you survive? What would you do to keep yourself from getting bored? Make a list of all of these things and try to order them from things you would do first to last.
About the Author:
Sonia Dalal is a recent college graduate with an insatiable love for reading.Sporting glasses at a young age, she quickly became known as the bookworm of the family and, to this day, still carries a book everywhere she goes.
Sonia even gets to incorporate her passion of reading with her work as a Marketing Associate for KiteReaders, a children’s eBook publishing company. In her spare time, she loves to sing, cook, and dig into the next novel or book on her “to read” list.