by Sara K. Joiner
Book list In 1883, 13-year-old Katrien lives with her father, a Dutch official, and her aunt in an island town within sight of a volcanic island, Krakatau. Her former friend Brigitta and the other girls at school view her hobby of collecting insects with disgust, while she disdains their interest in boys and bustles and babies. But when the volcano erupts and tidal waves wipe out their community, Katrien and Brigitta must depend upon each other to survive a harrowing ordeal. A subplot involving Katrien's childhood friendship with an Indonesian boy raises issues related to social structure, class consciousness, and colonial power. The strongest part of the novel is the characterization of Katrien, which enables readers to believe that she could survive the catastrophic events that kill nearly everyone around her. In her first novel, Joiner brings together a great deal of historical background material related to the Dutch East Indies, relations between colonials and native Indonesians, and the eruption of the volcano. An absorbing adventure story with a vividly drawn setting.--Phelan, Carolyn Copyright 2015 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
School Library Journal Gr 4-6-Based on the catastrophic explosion of the volcano island Krakatoa in 1883, Joiner's historical novel tells the story of 13-year-old Katrien, a Dutch girl who has spent her entire life in the Dutch East Indies. She feels most at home exploring the jungle with her best friend, Slamet, an indigenous boy, and collecting beetles to prove Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. Katrien is also close to her father, who has encouraged her interest in the natural world, until recently when he seems to have joined forces with Tante Greet to teach Katrien to become "a productive member of society." After a series of events, both in the natural world and in Katrien's close-knit community, which foreshadow the impending disaster, Krakatoa erupts, leaving Katrien alone to navigate the destruction and chaos on her beloved island. She joins forces with another survivor, Brigitta Burkart, who had been Katrien's closest friend until Brigitta's 10th birthday when the two girls dramatically parted ways. Alone in the jungle with all familiar markings washed away by destructive waves, the girls make their way through realistically portrayed scenes of human loss, come to terms with their youthful misjudgments, and realize that their survival depends on mutual trust and collaboration. VERDICT Recommend this adventurous and often heart-stopping novel to fans of Katherine Rundell's Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms (S. & S., 2014) and Andrea Davis Pinkney's The Red Pencil (Little, Brown, 2014).-Shelley Sommer, Inly School, Scituate, MA © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Publishers Weekly Joiner uses the devastating 1883 eruption of the volcano Krakatau as the basis of her first book. When readers meet 13-year-old Katrien Courtlandt, she is writing an admiring letter to Charles Darwin from her home in Java, where she has just finished reading On the Origin of Species. In her spare time, she collects beetles to contribute to his research, but her father and aunt-believing she has become too unladylike and unsociable-limit her time in the jungle, try to teach her how to run a household, and encourage her to spend time with a "polite and kind" girl named Brigitta, rather than her native friend Slamet. When Krakatau erupts, ash fall and tsunamis wipe out the majority of the population of Katrien's town, claiming the lives of many close to her; Katrien and Brigitta form a reluctant partnership, which transforms into a friendship. Joiner's story is slow to start, but once the eruption and its aftermath are underway, it shifts into a breakneck, and often heartbreaking, coming-of-age survival story. Ages 10-up. Agent: Carrie Pestritto, Prospect Agency. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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