These are some books I read aloud that were particularly enjoyed by the boys in the family when they were between about 6 and 12 years of age. For reading on their own I’d say about age 10 years but when I read them aloud we got out the atlas and had a look at google images together and afterwards I found the boys going back to read them on their own.
I don’t plan the rabbit trails before I read a book aloud but I do make sure we get out a map of some sort – we have an old Reader’s Digest International Atlas which has the most obscure places all through it – apart from that I let them make their own connections and if the book is a good one, there are always trails to follow.
Arthur Catherall has written many books and has used at least seven pseudonyms, one of them being A.R. Channel who wrote the above book. The Strange Intruder was published in 1964 and is about a cod schooner which was headed for Thorshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands, after a six months’ trip up the Davis Strait. On its journey homeward the schooner’s propeller shaft hit a clump of wreckage, resulting in major damage to the engine room and serious injury to the ship’s engineer.
An SOS sent out by the master of the schooner alerted the residents of Mykines who remained on the island that day – a handful of women, old men, young children and Sven, a 16 year old boy.
Sven had been bitterly disappointed when the other men and boys of the island had rushed off in the sudden excitement of a whale hunt and he had been left behind to help his disabled uncle haul in the fish catch. Now as they were rowing back to the island they realised something was wrong as Napoleon, Sven’s Grandfather, appeared on the cliff top waving his arms. Not understanding that he was trying to get them to go out after the whaling party, Sven and his uncle returned to the island where they heard the news of the stricken boat.
Sven’s father was first mate on the schooner but in the face of a force ten gale about to hit the area there was no chance of attempting a boat rescue. Napoleon asked Sven to run the four miles to the east end of the island to try to smoke signal the boats on the whale hunt but with the change in the weather the signals fail.
This book moves quickly and has a surprise twist with a ‘reign of terror’ – which I won’t spoil by revealing anything more…
Both of these books stirred up an interest in the people, wildlife and areas we read about. The author obviously knew what he was talking about and his descriptions made us curious to have a look at maps of Finland, Russia and the island of Mykines and pictures of the Faroe Islands. Yes, there was action and adventure which appealed particularly to the boys, but he wrote with a first hand knowledge and an identification with the people in his stories. It was interesting after we had read the book, to look at photos of Mykines and the tiny island of Mykinesholmur where Sven battled across the trembling bridge to take news to the lighthouse keeper. It was so like what we imagined from the author’s description.
Images of Mykines in the Faroe Islands: here.
For information about this author: see here.