Marsh Island by Sonya Spreen Bates
Orca Echoes, 2009.
On their first ever camping trip with their father, Jake and Tommy go exploring. Jake is annoyed at having his younger brother tag along and needing to entertain him. As they venture further from camp, they become lost. When they see a stranger in the woods, Jake's bravado disappears; they cut their adventuring short and race to trace their path back to camp. Is he the mysterious Alfred Marsh, the man whose story has been revealed by their father, and is there truly a lost fortune?
This novel would suit several audiences. It could work as either a text for emergent readers who wish to read not-too-scary adventure stories themselves or reluctant male readers in the middle primary looking for something short to hold their attention. Written by a Canadian author, now living in Australia, and containing a similar setting to the Hatchet series, the tale is short and simply told. Bates has worked in speech pathology with children with communication disorders. Both the number of pages and the vocabulary of this text indicate that the series should be easily accessible to younger or struggling students. The full page illustrations match the text and could be used to support the reader as they set the scene and create atmosphere.