Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Lost Island Smugglers: A Sam Cooper Adventure

If you are looking for a captivating book for boys who typically don't like to read, Lost Island Smugglers: A Sam Cooper Adventure will fit the bill. Author Max Elliot Anderson was a reluctant reader himself, and has designed a book of high interest to older boys who may struggle with reading, but don't want to read books targeted towards younger, beginning readers.

Sam Cooper has never lived anywhere more than two years, and is apprehensive about moving to Florida. He doesn't feel any better after his family drives by a drug bust, and the boy he sits next to in Sunday school is rude. However, before too long, his cheerful and honest disposition is noticed, and the rude boy (Tony) invites him to learn SCUBA diving at his dad's marina.

Sam enjoys diving with Tony and his friend Tyler, but Tony often tempts him to do things he knows he shouldn't. When Tony and Tyler plan an off-shore diving trip, Sam doesn't want to be left out and decides to go with them. Unfortunately, none of the boys tell their parents or check the weather. They are caught in a huge storm and their catamaran capsizes. They make it to shore and work together to find food, water and build a shelter. They also stumble upon a secret hideout used by drug runners. The Coast Guard arrives just in time to save the boys and catch the bad guys.

What I Like: When the boys return home, they are greeted with love, just the way the father in Jesus' story of the Prodigal Son welcomed his son home. I also like the realistic way Sam struggles with decisions. He knows what is right, but sometimes he doesn't do it. He portrays mixed emotions readers will relate to.

I also like the way Anderson was intentional about writing a book for reluctant readers. The topics are "grown-up" but the print is large and Anderson leaves a space between each line. Also, the setting is modern-day, making it easier for readers to visualize. Anderson includes Sam's favorite dessert recipe, a schematic drawing of a catamaran, and instructions for how to build a shelter if you are stranded in the wilderness.

What I Dislike: The first time Sam goes SCUBA diving, his parents don't call Tony's dad or verify his plans, but after that they are much more careful. This seemed inconsistent, but is a minor detail.

Overall Rating: Excellent

Age Appeal: 9-12

Publisher Info: Port Yonder Press, 2010; ISBN: 9781935600022; Paperback, 255 pgs., $12.95

Buy it at for $11.65.

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