Sally Barton is a bookworm but her parents believe she should be out meeting new people and getting fresh air, so they sign her up for an adventure holiday on an American island. There are 7 girls signed up and their holiday leader is Miss Tuffnell. For no sensible reason (other than to serve the plot), Miss Tuffnell sails on in a powerboat leaving the girls by themselves following in a motor boat. Fog splits the girls up from Miss Tuffnell and the end up drifting of course and landing on an uninhabited island. Janice a regular holiday adventurer and a bossy girl decides to take charge but it is Sally with all her book knowledge that is the better equipped to handle the situation.
After Janice leads them to the other side of the island where there is little food and only cliffs, Janice overhears Sally telling Liz they would be better off on the beach where they can fish and have better chance of being seen. Janice decides to present this idea to the rest of the girls as if it was hers. On their way back they run into a swamp with a crocodile but luckily get safely back to the beach. Janice does not like that Sally is taking control of things. While looking for firewood Janice sees she is being watched by some unidentified animal and runs back to camp. The situation starts taking its toll on her, Janice seems defeated and stops giving the orders. Sally and Liz discover Janice’s mysterious animal was a lost dog. The dog comes in handy when a storm washes away their supplies and he finds them again. Also he leads his owners back to help the girls. Sally and the girls get home safely and promise to stay friends and keep in contact.
This isn’t the most original story, a bunch of people being stranded on an island has been told often enough, but it is still a good adventure story. Visually the island is interesting and well represented, from the swamps and dense forests to the open beaches and cliffs. There are no mysterious smoke monsters, just the normal hazards of islands like animals, storms and poisonous food. While the girls do not crash on the island the boat does get swept away onto the rocks, which serves putting them in a difficult situation without dealing with injuries on top of it.
There are 7 characters and while visually distinctive most of them don’t have a lot to do. Of course the focus is on both Sally and Janice. Liz as Sally’s close friend gets to be supportive of her and put down Janice when needed. One other girl Eunice seems to have the trait of making things worse by scaring the other girls.
The other girls seem to be there just to complain or switch allegiances from Janice and Sally and follow who ever is favourable at the moment, like sheep. It is a short book so I supose can’t expect everyone to form distinct personalities. Both Janice and Sally get time to develop. Janice actually gets the most development. She goes from being bossy, arrogant and jealous to scared and unsure. She gets back to taking charge again but it is more driven by fear after the dog runs off and she forms a group to follow him. While bossy and jealous she is never shown to be nasty and softens up a lot by the end. Sally throughout maintains her practical and level headed attitude. She does gain friends that will take some of her time from reading and she is happier about the holiday than she was in the beginning but overall she stays the same. It is nice to see the bookworm triumph!
I do find Sally’s parents attitude quite funny. When they send her on holiday, I get that they want to her to socialise and exercise and such, but you wouldn’t think having a daughter that likes to read would be such a problem.
I don’t think reading too much is something that needs to be cured, it’s not something I want to be cured of anyway!