Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Marooned: The Strange but True Story of Alexander Selkirk, the real Robinson Cru

Marooned: The Strange but True Story of Alexander Selkirk, the real Robinson Cru

Robert Kraske
Illustrator:  Robert Andrew Parker 
For ages 12 and up
Clarion, 2005   ISBN: 978-0618568437

When he first finds himself all alone on tiny Juan Fernandez Island in the Pacific Ocean, Alexander Selkirk convinces himself that his ship will come back for him. Surely this marooning business is simply the captain’s way of making Alexander pay for being so stubborn, opinionated, and insubordinate. But then days flow into weeks and Alexander begins to realize that his ship, the Cinq Ports, is not coming back for him and he has to make the best of his situation.

Bit by bit Alexander acquires new skills. He learns how to catch the goats who live on the island, cooking and drying their meat and saving their skins. He learns how to fish and where some long abandoned crop plants can be found. He also finds an inner calm and peace which he never knew and makes friends with the wild cats on the island. All in all it is not a bad life and Alexander finds that he is happier on the island than he has ever been before.

When Alexander is rescued four years after he was marooned, he is glad to see people again and he returns to his native Scotland a successful and well-off man. And yet, there is something that he cannot find in the everyday world, something which he misses sorely and which lies back on his island.

This remarkable story about the man whose life experiences inspired Daniel Defoe to write is famous tale, is superbly written and fascinating. Readers get a feel what it was like to live in the early 1700’s, and come to appreciate how dangerous it was to be a sailor at this time. Alexander Selkirk’s story is a sad one but it also makes one wonder if life on an uninhabited island might not be enjoyable – at least for a while.