138. Abel's Island

Abel's Island
Written and Illustrated by William Steig

Pages: 119
Finished: Aug. 7, 2008
First Published: 1976
Genre: children's, animal fantasy
Award: Newbery Honor book
Rating: 4/5

Reason for Reading: read aloud to my 8yo. Decades Challenge

First sentence:

Early in August 1907, the first year of their marriage, Abel and Amanda went to picnic in the woods some distance from the town where they lived.

Comments: While on a picnic, a storm rises and Abel and his wife, Amanda, along with others find shelter in a cave. Amanda's scarf blows off and Abel chases after it, but the storm is too much now and he is blown down the hill, into a river, over a waterfall, and eventually lands on a small deserted island. Abel, who has led a quiet, work-free, rich life up to this point now must work for his survival in an unknown landscape.

This is a beautiful story. Abel learns so much about life from being on his own and having to work to survive. At first he desperately tries to escape but the swift flowing river stops him every time. He logically devises ways to cross but as time goes by his ideas become more outlandish until he realizes the only way off is to survive and wait for help. As this dandy rises to the challenges of his new life he begins to actually enjoy his life and starts to wonder what he will do when (he never loses hope) he gets back home as he does not want to give up this new found life of labour.

I found the story heart-warming, with a message to never give up and to keep your faith even in the hardest of times. The 8yo loved it as well and he thought it was hilarious and exciting.

I read this as child but this is the first time I've re-read it and it makes me want to re-read some more of Steig's books.


  1. This is one of the Newberys that I haven't had a chance to read, and it sounds perfect for a read-aloud for my kids. I'll put it on our list. Thanks for the review!

  2. Oh, I definitely think this is made for reading aloud. Hope you guys enjoy it!


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