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Jane's Island by Marjorie Hill Allee

Jane's Island

by Marjorie Hill Allee

Other authors: Maitland de Gogorza (Illustrator)

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A cozy little book about a college girl who gets a nanny job in Woods Hole, MA for a summer. The characters are good, but it's the setting that's the real star. Lovely descriptions of the bays and little islands. ( )
  electrascaife | Oct 5, 2017 |
I have no idea why this is so hard to find, and is not more popular. It's got interesting science, adventure, mystery, engaging characters, a bit of humor - and it's both Literary and accessible. My library in Carson City NV finally found a lendable copy from Portland, Maine!

I will admit the mystery is a bit off - the German scientist's role didn't have to quite so dramatic. But then Jane is a very dramatic young person, and Ellen is having the adventure of her life, so through the eyes of these girls his behavior is mysterious and dark.

It's interesting that the scientists have a respect for the ecosystems and for their subjects - but still harvest indiscriminately, as if they believe the sea is inexhaustible. This, despite the fact that they know that their corner of the sea is special.

I wonder what I would have thought of Mother and her new clean house and her tea parties when I was a child. Now I empathize with her! I like how Jane learned more about what it means to grow from being a grubby child to a strong & respectful young woman over the course of this summer. And Ellen learned so much about her capabilities, too.

I look forward to discussing it in the Children's Books group - not sure when, but sometime next year I believe. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
Published in 1931, and chosen as a Newbery Honor Book in 1932 - the other honorees that year were The Fairy Circus, Calico Bush, Boy of the South Seas, Out Of the Flame and The Truce Of the Wolf and Other Tales Of Old Italy - this summer adventure story follows soon-to-be college sophomore Ellen McNeil as she comes to Woods Hole, Massachusetts, to take up her very first job. Hired as a companion for twelve-year-old Jane Thomas, the adventurous, scientifically curious daughter of one of the summer researchers at the Woods Hole marine biology center, Ellen soon comes to care for the entire Thomas family, and to enter into their feelings of pride in Prof. Thomas' work. As the two girls enjoy summer in the small coastal town - tramping through the woods and meadows, swimming in the swift-moving channels (known locally as "gutters") between the islands - they also involve themselves in the work going on at The Laboratory, gathering the all-important planaria necessary for Prof. Thomas' work. When disaster strikes, and Prof. Thomas must be rushed to the hospital for an operation, it looks as if all of his summer's work will be wasted, until help comes from a most unexpected source...

I enjoyed Jane's Island quite a bit, immediately warming to both Ellen and Jane, and becoming happily involved in the life of the Thomas family, and the larger research community at Woods Hole. Ellen is a sympathetic heroine, while Jane, with her impetuous, tomboyish ways, evoked a strong sense of fellow feeling in me. The cast of secondary characters, from calm and kindhearted Miss Wareham, a biology teacher for fifty years, to cold and bitter Dr. von Bergen, a crippled German scientist who was once good friends with Prof. Thomas, but has now set himself as his chief rival, adds greatly to the interest of the story. I appreciated the fact that, although Dr. von Bergen is revealed as a far less villainous character than Jane initially believed, he is not entirely remade by the end of the book. The reader may have discovered that he is a decent human being, but he is still bitter and crusty. Having read two other Marjorie Hill Allee novels - Winter's Mischief and The Great Tradition - in which young girls and women devote themselves to studying biology, I was not surprised to see that Jane's interest in marine science is treated sympathetically in the story. I only wish Allee had written a sequel, in which she goes on to become a marine biologist!

All in all, Jane's Island was an engaging tale, one I would recommend to readers who enjoy summer adventure stories, as well as to those looking for tales featuring girls who love science. ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Apr 5, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Marjorie Hill Alleeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Gogorza, Maitland deIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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When seventeen-year-old Ellen comes to look after twelve-year-old Jane, she enjoys seaside and family life, and helps solve a bit of a mystery, in the scientific seaside village of Woods Hole, Cape Cod, during the nineteen twenties.
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