On The Page: Assigned Reading (Part One)
With Spring Break just around the corner, the LMPR team thought it the perfect time to reminisce about assigned school readings – specifically those that may have seemed tedious at the time, but stuck with us through the years for one reason or another.
This week we take you to a land of make believe, through a disastrous shipwreck, and into the dangerous Canadian wilderness.
Sarah Cruickshank – The Cay by Theodore Taylor
Theodore Taylor’s The Cay was one assigned reading that, since growing up, has stayed with me. It tells the story of a child named Phillip living through World War II, who is left shipwrecked on a small island after the boat he is travelling on with his family is torpedoed. His only companion on the island is a fellow survivor named Timothy.
Most memorable are the incredible visuals that Taylor has braided into this story – an impressive feat given that Phillip, our narrator, is rendered blind from the attack. Especially haunting is a chapter in which our two characters bind themselves to a tree in order to survive a violent hurricane – a scene so powerful, it’s often represented on the book jacket.
Brian Paterson – Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
I’m not certain whether it’s true across all of Canada, but where I grew up, you didn’t getthrough Elementary school without reading Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet.
It’s a riveting tale of survival, in which a thirteen year-old boy (coincidentally named Brian) finds himself alone in the Canadian wilderness following a bush plane crash. Equipped with only a thin windbreaker and a hatchet, he must push himself past extremes to survive.
As a young reader, I loved its danger, adventure, and relatable protagonist. As an adult, I appreciate the complex acknowledgement of nature’s dual identity as a place of great beauty, but also danger. Hatchet instilled a caution, foresight, and respect for wilderness that has kept me from harm on many adventures.
Shona Wercholuk – Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
When I was in grade six I was fortunate enough to have one of those teachers that you never forget – a mentor that perfectly challenges you to help mould you into the best version of yourself. With these challenges came a hefty reading list and on this list was Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson.
The novel tells the heart-wrenching story of an unlikely friendship between the artistic, Jesse Aarons and his neighbour, Leslie Burke. The two friends create a magical forest kingdom where they can escape the problems of their everyday life.
This book stuck with me for a number of reasons – the foremost being it was the first book that took me through a roller coaster of emotions and started my love for mournful fiction.
Check back in next week for Part Two of LMPR’s Assigned Reading edition of On the Page.