The Long Island by Drew Beckmeyer

The Long Island by Drew Beckmeyer
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Genre: Childrens, Action/Adventure, Historical
Length: Short Story (64 pages)
Age Recommendation: 6+
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Some of us like the comfort of familiarity—staying close to the home we’ve always known, making a life, building a community. For some, the intimacy of the old routine is satisfaction itself. But the known is not for everyone. When our 5 protagonists get to wondering what’s on the other side of their island, they can’t stop until they find out. What follows is an epic journey of discovery, danger, imagination, and ultimately, bittersweet fulfillment. Is this sophisticated picture book about man versus earth? Man versus man? Or man versus self? Like our protagonists, every reader will find their own right answer in this haunting and deceptively simple modern fable.

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This was one of those tales that can appeal to adults as much as it does for the age group it was originally written for. That’s something I always appreciate finding in a picture book. It’s just rare enough that it’s a real treat to read something that will mean one thing to an elementary-aged reader and quite another to an adult who looked at the same words.

There were barely any explanations at all about what was going on in this plot. I’m comfortable reading about nameless characters, but not knowing anything about them at all was tricky. They were described in such a way that it was impossible to know their ages, genders, or any other details that could round them out as individuals at all. The fact that this pattern repeated again with the plot only made it harder for me to get into it. While I appreciated the attempt to create something that anyone could relate to, I personally need at least a few concrete details in order to connect with the characters and become invested in what will happen next in the storyline.

With that being said, I did enjoy the questions the characters asked about whether it’s best to stick to the places you know or move on to seek adventure somewhere else. Not only will the answer to this be different for each person, what someone wants in one stage of life could easily flip a few years or decades later as their circumstances change and they yearn to reconnect with their roots or explore a new place. It was nice to see such an open-ended approach to what makes for a good life.

The Long Island should be read by anyone who enjoys coming to their own conclusions about the meaning of a story.

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