Tree Castle Island

Our rating: ***

Jack loves the Okefenokee swamp where his Uncle Hamp lives. He’s just built his own canvas canoe and he has permission to stay out in the swamp with it, so he goes exploring. But when an alligator causes a shipwreck and Jack is stranded, he discovers a secret about himself that he never thought was possible.

Tree Castle Island starts out with all the components of a leisurely paddle through the swamp and then, like a meandering river, turns to the plot about halfway through. Though the story is interesting and the author masterfully works into the story all kinds of facts about wildlife in a swamp, the ending feels a bit rushed. For a story with a problem that builds and plagues the characters for a solution for so long, it certainly feels abrupt to have the solution spelled out in one short chapter with no real resolution.