On Sand Island

Overview

In the deep blue waters of Lake Superior lies a small island of hummingbirds, rabbits, and hardy Norwegian fishing folk. On that island lives a boy named Carl who wants nothing more than to be out on the water in a boat of his own making. So this is a story of sawing, nailing, and sanding. But because Sand Island neighbors are closer than cousins, this is also a story of picking strawberries, moving rocks, and mending fishing nets fine as lace.

In 1916 on an island ...

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Johnson, David A. Boston 2003 Half Cloth First Edition New in New jacket Children's Picture. Signed by Author New. Slight shelfwear. Summary: Carl wants a boat, and so he ... barters work for the equipment he needs. This prose poem is set on an island in Lake Superior in the early 1900's. Signed and dated 2008 by Martin on the title page. Read more Show Less

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Overview

In the deep blue waters of Lake Superior lies a small island of hummingbirds, rabbits, and hardy Norwegian fishing folk. On that island lives a boy named Carl who wants nothing more than to be out on the water in a boat of his own making. So this is a story of sawing, nailing, and sanding. But because Sand Island neighbors are closer than cousins, this is also a story of picking strawberries, moving rocks, and mending fishing nets fine as lace.

In 1916 on an island in Lake Superior, Carl builds himself a boat by bartering with the other islanders for parts and labor.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A subtle, beautifully crafted story about hard work, simple joys, and the small, warm communities of the historic upper–Midwest.” Booklist, ALA, Starred Review

“Lyrical tale, told in the rhythms of lapping water.” Publishers Weekly, Starred

"There is pleasure, a sense of wonder, and appreciation for small details in nature and community in this celebration of a boy's first success. The writing has a smooth, easy-rhythm and flow of oars dipping and lifting through the water, and with each immersion a fine thought surfaces." School Library Journal

“Thoughtful readers will appreciate this low–key tribute to a child’s determination, and to the mutual respect that binds a community together.” Kirkus Reviews

"Johnson's watercolors rely on pale, mottled tones punctuated with fine yet crisp black lines; this technique results in an interestingly translucent, Japanese aura in the scenes of nature." The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Publishers Weekly
Martin's (Snowflake Bentley) inspiration for this lyrical tale, told in the rhythms of lapping water, came from a summer experience on Lake Superior's Sand Island, where a Norwegian named Carl Dahl once set his nets. "When Lake Superior was thick with fish/ and strung with nets/ and fishermen found their way on the water/ by watching the sun," 10-year-old Carl dreams of having a boat of his own and quietly sets out to build one. In this tightly knit community, "neighbors are closer than cousins," and Carl trades "work for work" in pursuit of his goal. Johnson's watercolors, tinted like Japanese woodblock prints, emphasize the endless stretch of summer days. Sky and water deepen imperceptibly from horizon out to the edges as Carl pulls ashore the boards he discovers on the beach. On two successive spreads, Carl holds a board steady on a pair of sawhorses and looks on as Torvald ("a little man who whistled all day/ and built rocking chairs from fish barrels") saws; on the next, Carl toils alone on a hillside, picking Torvald's strawberries in exchange. After his day with Torvald, Carl thinks to himself, "That's the end of the hard work. Nailing will be easy." But he needs nails from Burt Hill, and in return, Carl helps Burt move the rocks from under his dock. His father caps the project with two oars from their fish shed: "These are old--from Norway," he says. Martin effortlessly clues readers into Carl's motivation--the recent loss of his mother ("he kept the green beach glass/ he and his mother had found" in "his keep-away-bad-luck pocket") and his sister's skepticism ("You're too young to build a boat,/ .../ It will sink/ before you get past Moe's dock./ And we'll lose you, too"). When at last the boat is complete, he names it Beach Glass, and it's not just the boy's determination that brings the whole island to rejoice with him, it's the way he's made them all a part of his dream. Ages 5-8. (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Ten-year-old Carl wanted only one thing more than to be out in a boat off of Sand Island on Lake Superior; he wanted to own his own boat. It is from Sand Island, where Carl lives in a close community of people who are dependent on the lake for their livelihood that he decides to spin his dream into reality. Unlike the Little Red Hen who, to no avail, implored others to help her make her bread, Carl finds plenty of people who are willing to lend their expertise, if but in exchange for the various types of labor each of them needs done by him. It is in the collective gathering of wood, hammering, and painting that the story takes form and the young boy is molded into the fisherman that he will one day become. And it is in a dreamlike sequence of muted paintings that this story takes on its satisfying and graceful perspective. Just as the story is finely crafted and brimming with possibility, the delicate sea of pastel images are defined by carefully rendered black ink outlining. Although the text could stand on its own, it is transformed into the realm of the magical by the accompanying artwork. The story has a link to reality, as it pays homage to one of Sand Island's legendary fishermen, the real Carl Dahl. It is a treasure of a book and one that will surely be as much of a treat for a parent reading to a child as to the young readers it is intended for. 2003, Houghton Mifflin, Ages 4 to 8.
—Susan Schott Karr
School Library Journal
Gr 1-3-This picture book about a family living on an island in Lake Superior is so finely honed and concisely written that it reads like poetry. Carl wants a boat of his own. With hard work and lots of help from his neighbors, he manages to craft a small vessel. Each spread features a large illustration that emanates mist, light, fog, and even sand and sawdust, and always a sense of water and humidity. The watercolors are subdued, almost pointillist washes with stylized fine ink outlines framing fish, figures, the boat, and trees. There is pleasure, a sense of wonder, and appreciation for small details in nature and community in this celebration of a boy's first success. The writing has the smooth, easy rhythm and flow of oars dipping and lifting through the water, and with each immersion a fine thought surfaces. The book's lyrical quality has the feel of such classics as G. Macdonald's The Little Island (Dell, 1993) and Robert McCloskey's One Morning in Maine (Viking, 1952).-Susannah Price, Boise Public Library, ID Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The author of Snowflake Bentley (1998) and the illustrator of Amy Cohn's Abraham Lincoln (2002) team up for an atmospheric picture of fishing village life on an island in Lake Superior several generations ago. Setting out to build a boat from salvaged boards, ten-year-old Carl trades labor with his adult neighbors for needed skills, nails, paint, and other supplies, then rows off on an idyllic, long-anticipated outing. Martin's measured prose-"Carl dreamed about boats. / He drew the boat he would build: / a little flat-bottomed pound boat / like the fishermen use . . . "-gives the episode a grave, formal feeling, and Johnson's delicately lined, low-contrast paintings respectfully depict a community in which "island neighbors are closer than cousins," always willing to give each other a hand. Thoughtful readers will appreciate this low-key tribute to a child's determination, and to the mutual respect that binds a community together. (Picture book. 7-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618231515
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 8/25/2003
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Jacqueline Briggs Martin is the author of Snowflake Bentley, winner of the 1999 Caldecott Medal, and The Lamp, the Ice, and the Boat Called Fish, an ALA Notable Book, a Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book, Riverbank Review Finalist, Notable Social Studies Trade book and winner of The Golden Kite Award for Illustration. She grew up on a farm in Maine much like the one in this story. She lives in Mt. Vernon, Iowa.

David A. Johnson is the talented illustrator of several children's books. His illustrations have also appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, and the Atlantic Monthly. He lives in snowy eastern Connecticut with illustrator Barbara McClintock.

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