Jack Hawkins loves the Okefenokee Swamp in southern Georgia. He loves hanging out with Uncle Hamp, away from the bustle of his home in Atlanta, learning the ways of the swamp and exploring it on his own. He’s even made his own canvas canoe, and takes it exploring in the swamp.
Soon, things go wrong. He accidentally poles an alligator, who thrashes him against a stump, ripping a hole in the canoe. Then he realizes that he left the repair kit under his bed at Uncle Hamp’s.
No worries – he can handle himself in the swamp. He finds food, makes a shelter, and explores the island he discovered. But he hears weird sounds – he’s not scared, exactly, but wonders what is making those noises.
Then one day a dog finds him – one just like his own at Uncle Hamp’s, but it’s not his dog. And the dog is happy to stay with him, as long as he doesn’t talk. Jack wonders at this mystery until one day he runs into another boy.
A boy who looks exactly like him, except for a tiny mole on his neck. What does this mean?
Tree Castle Island by Jean Craighead George captivated my children and me. We were enthralled by the description of the Okefenokee Swamp, my son loved the idea of camping on his own in the wilderness, and we all wondered at the mystery of the boy identical to Jack.
Highly recommended for ages 8 and up.