Friday, January 29, 2010
The Lost Island of Tamarind
Every night I am reading aloud from the Lost Island of Tamarind by Nadia Aguiar. Wow, what a great bedtime story! Maya, Simon and their baby sister Penny are on a mysterious island looking for their parents. It doesn’t exist on any map, and has bizarre animals and plants they have never even heard of. A strange storm has washed the grown-ups from the family’s yacht where they have always lived, travelling the seas and doing research.
According to my websearch the author, Nadia Aguiar, grew up and now lives in Bermuda, which shows in the rich depiction of the tropics. Her descriptions of the plants, the heavy air, the sounds and the smells remind me of the subtropical rain forest outside my own door.
In the story, the kids manage to sail to Tamarind where carnivore vines swallow up the boat, suspend jaguars, and try to abduct Penny. They meet up with Helix, a boy who protects them and takes them to a river where they can wait for a barge. Refusing to stay, he slips into the jungle after giving them a spear and an amulet. Maya wonders if she’s made the right decision, or if she should have trekked through the dense growth with him to town.
They don’t even know if their parents are on the island, are not sure if they can trust the bargeman, can’t decipher their parents’ log book entries, don’t know what the amulet will protect them from, aren’t sure they can get help in town, and are fast running out of diapers for Penny.
I am swept up in the fantasy and mystery of the story, but also appreciate the accurate depiction of adolescents. For example, Maya pretends to be asleep so she won’t have to talk to her brother. ‘She felt too strange and emotional right then—filled with so much love for her family she thought she might weep—but if he spoke to her she was afraid she would snap at him. Why was it like that with family?’ Why indeed?
I am not reading ahead, really I am not. So at the pace we are going it might be a few weeks before we finish it. Do you want to know how it ends as badly as I do?