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The skeleton tree
2016
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Summary
A modern-day adventure and classic in the making, in the vein of The Call of the Wild, Hatchet, and The Cay, by award-winning author Iain Lawrence.
 
Less than forty-eight hours after twelve-year-old Chris sets off on a sailing trip down the Alaskan coast with his uncle, their boat sinks. The only survivors are Chris and a boy named Frank, who hates Chris immediately. Chris and Frank have no radio, no flares, no food. Suddenly, they've got to forage, fish, and scavenge the shore for supplies. Chris likes the company of a curious, friendly raven more than he likes the prickly Frank. But the boys have to get along if they want to survive.
 
Because as the days get colder and the salmon migration ends, survival will take more than sheer force of will. Eventually, in the wilderness of Alaska, the boys discover an improbable bond--and the compassion that might truly be the path to rescue.
Trade Reviews
School Library Journal Review
Gr 4-7-After the death of his father, Christopher goes on an extended sailing trip with his beloved Uncle Jack and a mysterious older boy, Frank, who clearly does not like Chris, although the reason is unclear. Then, in a turbulent storm, the boat sinks. Uncle Jack, who had returned to the cabin for flares, goes down with it. The lifeboat with the two boys on board eventually washes ashore in a remote area of Alaska. Finding an abandoned cabin and catching spawning salmon seem to be their only means of survival. Frank is surly and injured, while Chris is naive-almost to the point of helplessness; he is afraid to be in the wilderness but also reluctant to stay with Frank. Although they are drawn together by their circumstances, the bond between the two boys is tenuous. Chris befriends a curious raven who helps him explore their surroundings and offers him true companionship. The skeleton tree and a bear that seems to stalk the characters give the story a dark and foreboding tone. This is not a typical survival tale, and fans of Hatchet may be disappointed, as the boys grow very little as survivalists and there is less adventure. Instead, the focus is on the rocky and evolving relationship between the two boys. Though Frank is cruel and Chris is innocent, readers come to understand that each boy is much more than he appears. VERDICT Fans of Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen (HarperCollins, 2001) will find this a similar read.-Patricia Feriano, Montgomery County Public Schools, MD © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
Twelve-year-old Chris' mother is at first dubious about letting him fly to Alaska to join his daredevil uncle Jack in sailing down the coast, but she quickly relents, thinking that maybe a bit of adventure is what the boy needs. And an adventure is what he gets. Arriving in Alaska, Chris is surprised to learn that he will have another shipmate on the voyage: sullen, obnoxious 15-year-old Franklin. The two natural antagonists are left together to survive in the wilderness when their boat sinks and Uncle Jack is lost at sea. Will the boys remain enemies or will they affect a rapprochement in order to survive? And what is the significance of the eerie, desiccated tree they find, its limbs holding four coffins containing skeletons? Told in Chris's first-person voice, there is little original in this survival story, but the characters are well developed and the plot is fast-paced and suspenseful. Gary Paulsen and Will Hobbs fans will doubtlessly welcome this one.--Cart, Michael Copyright 2015 Booklist
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