My summer read-along is the Summer of Shelf Discovery, where we’re reading a chapter of Lizzie Skurnick’s book memoir, Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading and some of the book selections she discusses in that chapter. This is week 6 (we’re more than halfway through!), and chapter 6 is “Girls Gone Wild: Runaways, Left Behinds, and Ladies Living off the Fat of the Land.”
The books she writes about are:
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare
Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt
The Endless Steppe: A Girl in Exile by Esther Hautzig
Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
As in the other chapters of Skurnick’s book, she asks what the draw is to this subset of children’s/young adult books:
From whence comes our obsession with churning, straining, boring, sewing, scraping, stirring, carding, pulling, picking, boiling and scrubbing? (219)
I think the answer is similar to that from chapter 5, which was Very Special Topics. I wanted to know what it would be like to live off the land, to be in that situation in the book. Without, you know, actually having to live by myself on an island for 18 years, work really hard, be exiled to Siberia, etc.
For this chapter, I read Island of the Blue Dolphins, and The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Two very different books but both about girls who are abandoned and have to learn to cope, though Kit gets a lot more help than Karana did.
Two of the books from this chapter were particular favorites of mine when I was young: Witch of Blackbird Pond and Understood Betsy. Both were about girls who were transplanted, and I suspect my oft-moving young self related to this.
For modern equivalents, I remember the female half of Cold Mountain was like this, how the Penelope character had to learn to survive on her own.
Which of these books did you read/have you read? What are some modern-day equivalents of the fish-out-of-water story?
Previous Posts on the read along:
How To Read Along
Remember: post comments and links if you wrote about these books on your site. At the end of the summer, I’ll do a drawing, and Skurnick is donating a prize pack of some sort.