Dr. Franklin's Island

Dr. Franklin's Island

by Ann Halam

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307433312
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 12/18/2007
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 489,342
File size: 551 KB
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

In addition to writing children’s books, Ann Halam writes adult science fiction and fantasy books under the name
Gwyneth Jones.


From the Hardcover edition.

Read an Excerpt

chapter one

We formed a small crowd in the big confused mass of travelers in the Miami airport departure lounge . . . most of us identified by Planet Savers T-shirts, Planet Savers baseball caps, Planet Savers jackets, or at least Planet Savers lapel buttons. We were going to spend the next three weeks together, fifty British Young Conservationists. We were prizewinners in a competition run by the Planet Savers TV program. Part of the time we'd be staying on a wildlife conservation station deep in the Ecuador rain forest; part of the time we'd be visiting the Galapagos Islands.

I'd enjoyed flying from Gatwick as an unaccompanied minor. It was the first time I'd been alone on a plane, but that hadn't frightened me at all. Now I was beginning to feel scared. I'd won a place on this trip by thinking up a biodiversity experiment about beetles. But I suppose I'm a typical nerd, good at the details, not very smart at seeing the larger picture. I'd gone in for the competition because I liked my science teacher, and it had been like doing any interesting piece of homework. I had not thought it through. I had never sat myself down and said to myself, "Hold on, Semirah, what if you win? You are shy. How are you going to survive for three weeks surrounded by total strangers?"

Two presenters from the Planet Savers TV program were coming with us--Neil Cannon and Georgie McCarthy. They were at the center of a chattering group, tall, thin Neil with his spiky ginger hair and freckly tan, Georgie with her glowing dark skin and her cheeky smile. Both of them looked very friendly and cheerful and genuine, the way they did on television. They were the only people I wanted to go up and talk to. They seemed like friends, because I'd seen them so often on TV. But I knew that was an illusion. Real life is different. So I walked about instead, counting my fellow prizewinners.

There were thirty-seven teenagers and ten adult organizers, including Neil and Georgie. There were actually fifty prizewinners, but the other thirteen were traveling on another flight. I decided I was in the rain forest already, or else in a zoo. Maybe I was a new young animal, freshly arrived, and I had to find the enclosure where I belonged. I spotted a baby giraffe; a wolf cub; a slinky green-eyed lizard; a couple of pointy-nosed, mischievous young lemurs; a pouchy-faced boy with tufty auburn hair who looked amazingly like a guinea pig, the kind with the fur sticking up in rosettes. There was one sad girl with big eyes and smooth fair hair sitting by a set of beige pigskin suitcases (while the rest of us had backpacks and nylon stuff-bags), who was like a baby seal--beautifully dressed and totally helpless. There was an awkward, gangly boy with a huge nose, carrying a fluorescent orange puffa jacket, who looked like a newborn wildebeest, stumbling over his own legs. There was a Very Cool Girl, with long black hair, long brown legs, black T-shirt, gray cutoff combats, and a battered rucksack that looked as if she'd borrowed it from Indiana Jones. . . . I couldn't think of an animal comparison for her. She didn't look lost or anxious at all. She must be one of the keepers.

But what kind of animal was I? I didn't know.

I walked all the way around the zoo, and then came back to a girl with a round face and fluffy hair, who looked like a baby owl. I like owls. I was about to say hello when along came Very Cool Girl, with her beautiful hair swinging. She smiled at me, and so did the baby owl. But oh no . . . My throat closed up. I simply could not speak. I can't talk to strangers! I swerved off, and pretended I'd been heading for a nearby drinks machine.

On the row of seats by the machine there was a big chunky pale boy with bristle-short dark hair, sitting by himself. You wouldn't have known he was one of us, except that he had a Planet Savers information pack lying facedown on top of his rucksack. I'd given up on the animal identities, so I didn't try to think of one; but I decided I'd sit down, not next to him but a couple of seats away, to drink my can of Coke. I would try to look casually inviting, and maybe we could strike up a conversation. I sat down, giving a sigh that might have been a sort of noncommittal half-hello. He looked up from the game he was playing on his GameBoy and stared at me, narrow-eyed. His expression said very clearly, I've got your number, Unpopular Girl. Stay away from me.

I am not unpopular. People like me when they get to know me. It's just that I'm chubby and shy, and maybe I work too hard, so I'm not very sociable. . . . I shrugged and walked away, trying not to feel insulted. But being glared at like that naturally didn't make me feel any better. I decided he was an animal after all; a bad-tempered, solitary kind of animal, liable to lash out and best not approached.

Our flight was delayed. I still hadn't managed to talk to a single person when we got on the little bus and were driven out onto the tarmac to board our charter plane. I'd spent most of my time reading a book (well away from the nasty boy). It was hot outside, even though it was evening by then. I remember looking around at all the gray tarmac and the planes, and the smoggy sky, and being glad I was going somewhere green and wild.

There was some swapping of seat allocations, as the lucky people who'd made friends arranged to get next to each other. I had no part of that. I was extremely surprised when I found I was going to be sitting with Very Cool Girl.

"Do you want the window?" she said. "I've got it, but I'd rather have the aisle."

I said yes, I would like the window; and we sat down, me thinking how sophisticated not to want to sit next to the window.

"My name's Miranda Fallow," she said, holding out her hand. I wasn't used to people shaking hands with me, but from Very Cool Girl it seemed adult and right.

"Howdeedoodah," I said, "I'm Semirah Garson, people call me Semi--"


From the Hardcover edition.

Reading Group Guide

This guide was prepared by Clifford Wohl, educational consultant.

1. At the start of the book, Semirah Garson (Semi) looks around at the people she is about to spend three weeks with in the Ecuadorian rain forest and on the Galápagos Islands. She makes judgments based on the way they look, and she stereotypes them. In your experience, how accurate are first impressions?

2. After the crash, the group tries to piece together exactly what happened. They soon find, though, that their stories do not match up. Semi says, “Miranda, who had been sitting next to me, did not remember what I had remembered. It seemed as if we’d been in two different plane crashes” (p. 15). What do the variations among Semi’s, Arnie’s, and Miranda’s recollections say about the reliability of eyewitness accounts? Talk about a time at school when you shared an experience with another student and each of you was sure your own description of the event was true–but your descriptions were totally different.

3. As they try to get their bearings after the crash, Miranda and Arnie argue about how to proceed. He wants to explore and look for help, while she insists that they set up camp and stay close to the wreck so Search and Rescue can find them. Who do you think has the correct approach? Miranda possesses many wilderness survival skills. What skills do you have? Would you have been able to survive on the island?

4. Referring to transgenic experiments, Dr. Skinner says, “We’ve had plenty of losses. And some survive in very twisted forms. But our goal is to take humanity beyond all the limits. Of course there’s a price to pay” (p. 72). What is the price Dr. Skinner refers to? Contemporary scientists continually debate the ethics of experimental research. How do we decide what is moral and immoral when it comes to scientific experimentation? Discuss human cloning and other scientific possibilities you’ve heard about.

5. Animal rights advocates have assailed drug companies for using animals in the development of new pharmaceuticals. They claim that subjecting animals to the pain and suffering that testing can cause is cruel. The drug companies contend that it is necessary for the betterment of mankind. What do you think? Is experimenting on animals an acceptable price to pay if it may lead to a drug that can cure a disease?

6. Dr. Skinner tells Semi and Miranda that Dr. Franklin is “a genius. He’s crazy, but he is a genius” (p. 75). The character of the mad scientist has been seen often in literature. How do you view scientists? Do you trust them? Do you see them the same way that Semi sees Dr. Franklin? Are there real-life Dr. Franklins?

7. Semi, Miranda, and Arnie are three very different people. Could any of them be your friend? With which one(s) would you like to be stranded on a desert island? Why?

8. “So, which do you want to be?” she whispered. “Fish or bird? . . . Do you want the freedom of the ocean? Or the sky?”
. . .“I’d rather be the fish, if I have to be one or the other.”
“Good,” said Miranda cheerfully. “Because I’ve always wanted to be able to fly. . . . I think I fancy being a hyacinth macaw.”
. . . “I want to be a shark,” I said firmly. “A great big great white shark, and I’ll bite Skinner’s bum.”
(p. 92).
If you were in their situation, what animal would you want to be?

9. Once they are transformed physically, Miranda and Semi begin to change psychologically. How do they change? Are you surprised by how happy they are?

10. Friendship is one of the themes of Dr. Franklin’s Island. Semi and Miranda might never have become friends if not for the plane crash. And it isn’t until their morale is at its lowest and they feel utterly defeated that they become true friends, rather than just allies. Talk about the way Semi and Miranda’s relationship develops. Does it resemble any of your friendships?

11. “I know that we can transform again. I believe it will happen, some way, somehow” (p. 247). When you read this coda, do you foresee a sequel to the story? What do you think would happen in a sequel?

Customer Reviews

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Dr. Franklin's Island 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 76 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We had to read this book for our reading class and at first i was like 'ugggh! Sci fi!'. But i knew i HAD to read it because all the projects that we had to do throughout the unit was 70% of our semester grade. I read it and i loved it even when i was only on Chapter 3. I definetley recommend this book. Trust me its worth every penny.
Elly120 More than 1 year ago
Dr. Franklin's Island is an amazing science fiction novel. It is about a plane full of British teenagers who are on their way to a conservation station in Ecuador, when the plane crashes. It lands on an island in the middle of nowhere. The three sole survivors, Semi, Meranda and Arnie are left on this strange island to fend for themselves. They thought they were alone, but there was actually a whole civilization on the other side of the island, led by Dr. Franklin, a mad scientist. Dr. Franklin had been waiting for them, so he could use the teenagers as specimens for his experiments in genetic engineering. This book was very descriptive and detailed. It was also very thrilling, and after every chapter, I wanted to read more. It kept me interested, too, and I never got bored of it. I love how the author, Ann Halam, had you connect with some of the characters. But I wished she developed the character Arnie into a more likeable character. Some of her long, formal words were a little hard to understand, so some language wasn't very realistic. The writing style of the author is very descriptive, and she uses a lot of short sentences. Even though her writing has many formal words, it is very casual. Halam's characters speak in slang in this book because most of them are modern teenagers. The language they use isn't very realistic and believable, but the author's writing is very clear, and the point of the book is easily understood. This book is told in first person, which is what I really liked. I reccommend this book because it is funny, and a great book for science fiction lovers. It also hooks you in so you'll want to read more. Other books by Ann Halam are "Snakehead", "Taylor Five", "Siberia" and "Daymaker". As you can see, I enjoyed "Dr. Franklin's Island" very much and I highly reccommend it.
2012rocks More than 1 year ago
Well this book is scary. If you like scary stuff I recommend you reading it. If you don't you shouldn't read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Definitly recommend this book to everyone!!! Im read it three times and its still awesome!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was amazing. This is the second time reading it (first time being in fourth grade) yet its still amazing. Definetly worth the money
-AlyssaE- on LibraryThing 2 hours ago
almost like a version of island of dr. moraeu. this is the first thing that i thought of when i started reading this book and if you have not seen that or read it you should.
KeFu0718 on LibraryThing 2 hours ago
This book is kind of disturbing, but in the interesting way. Dr.Franklin's island is a good book it is amazing what is in this book and it makes you wonder weather or not it is possible.
samajama27 on LibraryThing 2 hours ago
I LOVE this book. I can't think of one single thing I don't like this book. It is so interesting and sometimes keeps you on the edge of your seat. It makes you want to yell out to the characters, telling them things to do. I loved how creeped out I was a lot of the time. This is such a well written book, and I love everything about it.
emma_mc on LibraryThing 16 hours ago
Good, interesting premise, but such poor writing. High School subject matter, Junior High writing ability. Predictable. There were lots of unbelievable parts. Halam did a mediocre job of creating willing suspension of disbelief. I was disappointed. Less than average, but I'm feeling generous with the stars today.
TZacek on LibraryThing 16 hours ago
Ever ask yourself what you would do in a moment of crisis? How you would handle yourself in an emergency situation? Wonder just how much survival instinct do you have? What are the limits to physical and mental human endurance? There is a plane full of students flying over the Atlantic Ocean who are about to find out. When a case of physical wilderness survival becomes a case of mental fortitude, who has the wherewithal to make it out with all their limbs and their minds intact? I¿ll be honest; this book scared the bejesus out of me. The wilderness survival stuff I could stand just fine and thoroughly enjoyed. But at the point when the two girls start actually changing, I had a moment of, ¿wait¿ really?!¿ I think I was expecting for them to somehow make their grand escape and flee before anything happened to them and this really took me for a loop. For me, it really made me wonder what exactly I could take and at what point I would have completely lost it. A nice blend of science fiction and horror that actually did make it hard to put down because I was so creeped out that I just had to know what happened next.
escondidolibrary on LibraryThing 3 months ago
This modern retelling of the classic story, "The Island of Dr. Moreau" had me on the edge of my seat! On the way from England to Ecuador, Semirah and Miranda's plane crashes near a small island leaving only 3 survivors. At first they think they are alone but further exploration leads to their capture by a mad scientist that wants to turn them into animals using genetic engineering.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book paperback and i found it really weird. It was well written but the story plot was just plain weird
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Absolutely loved this book. I decided to read it because I love reading animal books, and this definately feeds into your imagination. Highly recommend this book for a good read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a book that was very well thought out, i couldnt put it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing and intriguing book!!! I couldnt put it down and read it twice!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is intense and extremely sci-fi. It could be considered a tad bit scary at some points but I would recommend this to anyone who loves sci-fi, especially in the subject of genetic engineering.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The title tells all. In my class we have to read 45 minutes each night so i found this book thinking it was not going to be good. As i read on it got better and better i just couldnt put it down...... i finished it in 3 days. I seriously recommend this book, it is my favorite of all time!
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One of the best books I've ever read. If you like sci-fi books, you will love this book! I've read it 3 times. :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great action and very descriptive. A little gross at some parts but defently worth your time.
Tom Scherlis More than 1 year ago
Best book ever! Ful of great sci-fi wlements and a cliffhanger at eveey scene. Could not pur it sown. Action packed, just great. I really hope there is a seqqual soon. BUY IT!!!!!!!
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