Cover image for Tree castle island
Tree castle island
George, Jean Craighead, 1919-2012.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins, [2002]

Physical Description:
242 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
After building his own canoe, fourteen-year-old Jack Hawkins goes to try it out in his beloved Okefenokee Swamp, where an accident tests his survival skills and leads him to a shocking discovery.
Reading Level:
580 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.0 7.0 58920.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 4.9 11 Quiz: 32823 Guided reading level: T.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Collins Library X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
Concord Library X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
Eden Library X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
Hamburg Library X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
Lackawanna Library X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
Lake Shore Library X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Fourteen-year-old Jack sets out in a handmade canoe for the legendary Okefenokee Swamp. But after several idyllic days of exploring, he's hit with some bad luck. He can't find his way home, and he runs into a hungry alligator who takes a bite out of his canoe. When he pulls up to a remote island, he finds another surprise: a mystery that will reach far into his own past . . . and force him to question the world he's left behind.

Author Notes

Jean Craighead George was born on July 2, 1919 in Washington, D.C. She received degrees in English and science from Pennsylvania State University. She began her career as a reporter for the International News Service. In the 1940s she was a member of the White House press corps for The Washington Post.

During her lifetime, she wrote over 100 novels including My Side of the Mountain, which was a 1960 Newbery Honor Book, On the Far Side of the Mountain, Julie of the Wolves, which won the Newbery Medal, Julie, and Julie's Wolf Pack. She also wrote two guides to cooking with wild foods and an autobiography entitled Journey Inward. In 1991, she became the first winner of the School Library Media Section of the New York Library Association's Knickerbocker Award for Juvenile Literature. She died on May 15, 2012 at the age of 92.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 4-7. When his father and mother leave for Europe, 14-year-old Jack goes to stay at Uncle Hamp's farm, near the Okefenokee Swamp. When Hamp leaves to help a friend butcher his hogs, Jack takes off in his handmade canoe to explore the Okefenokee on his own and soon becomes lost. The book starts out as an interesting survival story, though it's a bit overloaded with information about local flora and fauna. The focus shifts when Jack meets Jake, the twin he never knew he had. The minor characters aren't always convincing, but readers will find Jack an empathetic character, insecure in some ways, yet courageous in others. The swamp is a well-developed, original setting. George's small ink drawings illustrate the text; Wendell Minor's appealing paintings of Jack and Jake in the Okefenokee grace the front and back of the dust jacket. Carolyn Phelan.

Publisher's Weekly Review

Combining survival tale, nature study, mystery and legend, Newbery Medalist George (Julie of the Wolves) serves up an ultimately unsatisfying stew. While his parents vacation in Europe, 13-year-old Jack, the narrator, stays on his Uncle Hamp's farm on the St. Mary's River in Georgia. Hamp goes off to help a neighbor for at least a week or two... maybe more, and Jack decides the time is ripe to paddle his homemade canoe to the source of St. Mary's, the great Okefenokee Swamp, and search for the fabled Paradise Island. That Paradise, Jack muses, is a fantasy for most people [but] Uncle Hamp says it's part of a human quest for discovery. When an alligator tears a hole in Jack's canoe, the boy finds himself stranded on a small island, where he becomes acquainted with the wildlife and vegetation, builds himself shelter and forages for food. While George demonstrates her expertise as a naturalist, she relaxes the pacing to such an extent that almost no tension remains in the narrative. Jack, underdeveloped as a character, approaches his adventure with matter-of-fact calm. A puzzle emerges when Jack finds an Airedale that looks just like his own dog, answers to the same name and turns out to belong to another boy, an explorer like Jack, who is revealed to be Jack's identical twin, separated at birth. The factual descriptions of the swamp habitat and the fantastic elements of the plot cancel each other out, collapsing the quasi-mythic underpinnings of this quest for discovery. Final artwork, by George, not seen by PW. Ages 8-12. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-7-The Georgia swamp emits a siren's song to 13-year-old Jack, and he sets off alone in the canoe he made himself. When it has an untimely encounter with an alligator, Jack has the perfect excuse to camp in the Okefenokee and test the survival skills he's learned from his Uncle Hamp. While there, a chance meeting puts his knowledge of himself and his family in a whole new light. Jack's survival tale oozes with details of living off the land, from his attempts to gather terpene to his various methods of catching fish and building shelter. The scenes describing the boy's self-sufficiency in the outdoors are reminiscent of Sam Gribley's in My Side of the Mountain (Turtleback, 1959). Jack's experience, however, is limited to a short time, and his skills are largely ready-made for his adventure. A subplot, in which Jack meets a boy who turns out to be his twin and discovers that he is adopted, adds a melodramatic twist that is uncharacteristic of the author. Offering the thrill of independence, an exploration of family and self, and a loving depiction of a specific chunk of nature, this novel will have wide appeal even if it is less magical than George at her best. Despite a few loose ends, it's solid and worthwhile.- Faith Brautigam, Gail Borden Public Library, Elgin, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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