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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Interview and Review: S.A. Bodeen, author of Shipwreck Island

I'm stoked to have author S.A. Bodeen stopping by today to chat about her new middle-grade adventure, Shipwreck Island! You can also read my review below...

Shipwreck Island
by S.A. Bodeen
July 29, 2014

Sarah Robinson is deeply troubled in the wake of her dad’s second marriage. She now has to deal with a new stepmom and two stepbrothers, Marco, who is her age, and Nacho, who’s younger. Even though they’ve all moved from Texas to California to start life as a new, blended family, none of the kids seem remotely happy about it.
Sarah’s dad and stepmom then decide to take the whole family on a special vacation in order to break the ice and have everyone get to know one another. They’ll fly to Tahiti, charter a boat, and go sailing for a few days. It’ll be an adventure, right? 
Wrong. Dead wrong.  

Shipwreck Island is the first installment in a series from S.A. Bodeen.

S.A. Bodeen’s Shipwreck Island is an exciting middle-grade adventure, full of thrills, laughs, and fantastical creatures.

Sarah Robinson is not happy that her dad has remarried a woman he met online. She’s even more unhappy that her new stepmother and two new step-brothers, Marco and Nacho, have moved into the Robinson’s California home. Sarah, Marco, and Nacho get an even bigger nasty surprise when their parents tell them that they will all be taking a private cruise vacation, as a way to get to know each other. A luxurious boat, experienced captain, and cruise around Tahiti: what could go wrong? EVERYTHING! Shipwrecked on a mysterious island, this new blended family must learn to work together if they are going to survive.

Bodeen combines everything a captivating middle-grade read needs- excitement, humor, great storytelling, and likable characters- in Shipwreck Island, to create a fun, edge-of-your seat story that will keep younger readers anxiously turning pages until the cliffhanger ending!

With a mix of adventure, relatable contemporary aspects, and fantastical sci-fi elements, Shipwreck Island will easily amuse and entertain younger readers from beginning to end. From the first moments these characters become a blended family to their less than fun ocean journey and their perilous island adventures, Bodeen crafts an atmosphere ripe with anticipation, mystery, and fun chills. The island this family finds themselves marooned on, dubbed Shipwreck Island, makes for a wonderfully eerie and twisty setting! Giant crabs, kangaroos with claws, terrifying birds, weird sounds and sights- this island is full of the unexpected, the impossible, dark whimsy, and spine-tingling fun!

Sarah, Marco, and Nacho are all likable, endearing characters in their own ways, and I had fun getting to know each of them. Young readers will love Sarah’s humor, Marco’s bravery, and Nacho’s sweetness, and their engaging interactions with each other.

Shipwreck Island is a shorter read and, while I would have happily welcomed more, younger readers will love this bite-sized size book and easily gobble the story up in one sitting. Bodeen leaves us with a shocking, exciting cliffhanger ending and I’m definitely excited for more.

My Final Thoughts: With thrills, humor, fantastical elements, and engaging characters, this middle-grade adventure will please young and older readers alike!


What three words best describe Shipwreck Island?  
Peril. Adventure.  Suspense.

Can you give us your best one sentence pitch to convince readers, especially reluctant readers, to give Shipwreck Island a try?
Shipwreck Island is like Swiss Family Robinson meets Lost

Grab a copy of Shipwreck Island and answer the following:
favorite chapter? 16

favorite page? 180

favorite setting/place? I like their camp under the monkey pod trees.

flip to a random page and give us a 1-2 sentence teaser: His eyes locked with hers. “I have a feeling that we haven’t seen the worst of this place. Not at all.”

What inspired Shipwreck Island? How did the story come to be?
Jean Feiwel suggested I write a middle grade series reboot of The Swiss Family Robinson, and I knew it needed a very contemporary  spin with a big dose of creepy. Shipwreck Island is where my imagination led.  

Young Sarah, Marco, and Nacho make for three different, yet equally likable characters. Can you briefly tell us a bit about each of them and what makes them special?
Sarah likes her life the way it is. She sees her new step-brothers as invaders to the life she has with her father. She stands up for herself and her family. Whether the boys and their mom will ever be considered family to her remains to be seen…

Marco is a big brother, often annoyed by his younger sibling. He is tough, strong, and doesn’t like having to pull up roots to move in with a new family. He doesn’t let his fear get the best of him, and down deep, he’d do anything to protect his mother and brother.

Nacho is a collector of information, much of which he retains. He wants his older brother to respect him, but time after time he gives Marco reasons to make fun of him. He is the most open-minded of the kids, the only one willing to make a go of their new family situation.  

The characters in Shipwreck Island end up on quite a mysterious, unique island and must rely on some serious survival skills...what would say are the top three things one must have or do to survive being shipwrecked?
Fire-making: top of the list. Shelter-building: also an asset. Common sense/a level head: also important. If you run around freaking out, you won’t be able to build a fire or cook or do anything you need  to.

Shipwreck Island ends in such an exciting, yet cliffhang-ery way...can you tell us anything about what’s to come in book two?
Book 2 starts up seconds after Book 1 ends and the reader will learn much more about the new character and possibly that eerie message in the sand…

As a middle-grade author, why do you think middle-grade is so important? Who is your absolute favorite MG hero and heroine?
I think middle grade is when independent readers really branch out, discover what they like to read, and begin to form lifelong solo reading habits. Providing terrific books at this age is crucial in order to develop/ foster/maintain that love of reading. Oh, it’s hard to pick a favorite. Hero: Charlie Bucket  Heroine: Karana, from Island of the Blue Dolphins.

Fill in the blanks:
I’m really awesome at baking desserts.

I’m really embarrassed to admit that I can’t swim.

The last great book I read was She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick.

If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by Shipwreck Island, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?
I think it would be marbled Madagascar vanilla and mango, with cream cheese frosting and green-tinted shredded coconut on top. I would call it The Moonflight Delight, of course.

Thank you so much for stopping by, S.A. Bodeen!

S.A. Bodeen is the author of The Garden and The Compound, which earned her an ALA Quick Pick for Young Adults, a Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year, and a Publishers Weekly "Flying Start." She is also the author of several picture books, including  Elizabeti’s Doll, winner of the Ezra Jack Keats Award. Bodeen grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. Her first friends were cows, which she named after characters in books. From there she went on to be a Peace Corps volunteer in East Africa, and has lived in seven states, as well as a remote Pacific island. She adores books and is a big fan of cheese. She lives in Oregon. 

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