Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Skeleton Tree

Lawrence, Iain (Author)
Tundra Books 2016. 282 pages
First published: 2016
ISBN: 9781101918357 (hardcover)
9781101918371 (paperback)
9781101918364 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Novel
Book genre: Adventure

Text Elements:

point of view, setting

Award

TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award – Finalist – 2017

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

This book offers a story of survival in the Alaskan coastal wilderness, with a focus on human relationships, animals and a touch of spirit-magic, told from the perspective of 12-year-old Chris.

Observant and eloquent, the language portrays the evolving relationship between the two young survivors of Uncle Jack’s ill-fated sailing trip. At first, 15-year-old Frank is intimidating: “My hands were bleeding. My knee throbbed. But I was moving up from the sea, and Frank crawled along behind me like some terrible creature slithering from the depths.” But Frank’s knowledge of the land proves invaluable—as does Chris’s even temper.

Nuanced themes of conflict and cooperation flicker through all aspects of the plot. Chris develops a loving bond with a raven and there’s ongoing antagonism with a grizzly bear: “A hundred times I’d looked back to make sure it wasn’t following me. A hundred times I’d seen only the empty beach.... And now I looked again. And there was the bear.”

Altogether, this book captures an awe of nature and its indifferent dangers. In this wondrous environment, Chris develops his own spirit and strength, as he learns from Frank about their shared family history. In an uncanny yet wholly credible finale, a prophetic dream keeps the boys’ hopes alive, while a raven’s cache provides the key to rescue. “‘I don’t read endings. It’s more real that way.’ ‘You’re crazy,’ I said. But I laughed.”

  •  

    The story’s narrator is 12-year-old Chris. Read the first chapter and consider how the story might change if it were told from the point of view of an omniscient narrator or another character.

  •  

    Explore the relationship of the two main characters as it develops through shared experiences. Use text references to support ideas and make notes in a reader-writer’s notebook.

  •  Choose a scene from the text and re-create it as a graphic text told from different points of view. The story can be told by Chris, Frank, Uncle Jack or by an omniscient narrator. Share the new scenes and reflect on the way point of view changes the text.
  • To cooperate with others
  • Environmental Awareness and Consumer Rights and Responsibilities
  • Personal Development