Title: Far From HomeFar-From-Home
Author: Ron Fontes & Justine Korman
Pages: 127
Reading Level: 9-13
Star Rating: ★★★

I remember watching this show over and over again when I was a kid. I remember how scary the wolf attack was and how funny Silas was in his costumes…

The Story.

Angus McCormick loves his life – he spends his time crashing through the forests of Saturna Island, chasing after rabbits or delivering newspapers to his neighbors with his best friend, David, and little brother, Silas. Soon, their gang is joined by Yellow Dog, the stray lab who’s been hanging around their home and who seems to have no owner. Life is good.

But excitement is about to burst into Angus’ life. It all begins when his father, John, invites Angus to join him in a sea voyage to Winter Harbor. Angus can hardly believe it – the thought of sailing out on the sea with his father and his dog seems too good to be true! And it is. Not long after they set out, the Cormorant rides into a storm. When a fire breaks out on deck, Angus and Yellow Dog jump into a life boat and hang on for dear life. They find themselves stranded on the British Columbian coastline.

Is Angus’ father still alive? And will Angus and Yellow Dog be able to navigate their way home before they starve to death?

Cautions.

Angus’ little brother, Silas, is an interesting case. He has an obsession with the idea of being a super hero, and every day he shows up in a makeshift costume. Now, this is partly funny and partly troubling. Funny because the costumes get horribly in his way, and he often makes quirky suggestions about how to respond to different situations. Troubling because his mind dwells constantly on these make-believe characters and they often dictate the decisions he makes. He pretends that he’s Spider-Man, Elektro Boy, Lizard Man, Electric Shock Man, the Masked Avenger. . .

And the poor boy is confused. When Yellow Dog appears and rescues him, he suggests that,

“Maybe he fell out of the sky from heaven,” Silas proposed. After all, the dog had saved his life, like Superman suddenly appearing to catch Lois Lane as she fell from a building. And Superman had sort of come from heaven. [pgs. 21-22]

And later, after Angus has gone missing, he interrogates his mother.

“Would you go to space or maybe under the ocean when you die?” Silas asked.

“Um . . .” Katherine wasn’t in the mood for one of those impossible questions kids will always throw your way. But she knew she couldn’t duck out of this one, not now. “Well, you go to heaven . . . maybe, but probably.” Recent events had made her faith a bit shaky.

“And then you open your eyes and wake up again,” Silas stated.

“No, you don’t open you eyes again. It’s like sleep, but different.” Katherine wondered what she was getting into.

“It’s forever?” Silas persisted.

Katherine sighed. “Yes, it is.”

“Well, at least you can go visit people whenever you want. That’s something, maybe,” Silas suggested. [pgs. 103-104]

When Angus catches and kills a mouse, he says this before eating it.

“Thank you for being here to feed us, mouse.” Angus looked around the forest. “Now you’re with the wind and the stars and the trees where all the animal spirits go.” [pg. 95]

On one occasion, Fontes and Korman wrote, “Katherine smiled. She loved her husband, but at times he could be amazingly oblivious.” [pg. 8]

It’s true. He was amazingly oblivious at moments. And it’s also true that she loved him… In one scene, they embrace and kiss on the porch swing. It feels intimate until Yellow Dog bursts upon them demanding attention. Later they kiss again.

Angus and a girl named Sara have a running romance that pops up here and there. When we are first introduced to Sara, we are told, “though she shared all of his boyish interests, Sara was also interested in boys – specifically Angus.” [pg. 14]

When Angus and his father are leaving, Sara comes to tell them goodbye.

Angus looked at Sara and for a moment their eyes met like fingertips tentatively reaching for each other. Angus knew he should do or say something.

Should I kiss her? He wondered frantically, as the awkward silence stretched into an eternity. But Sara was his friend. What if. . .

The girl leaned toward Angus. Her lips pursed slightly, waiting to be kissed. But Angus was afraid. Without thinking, he backed away. His dark eyes still lingered on Sara’s, but she broke the stare. The moment was lost.

“I’ll see you when you get back,” Sara said.

Angus nodded, then turned toward the boat. [pg. 49]

Later, Angus promises himself that he will kiss her if he gets the opportunity to do so again. And then it comes.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

“Yeah, I’m okay,” Angus mumbled.

Sara said, “Yeah, you’re right. You are okay.”

Angus wondered what she meant. Sara put her arm around him, and he put his around her. Then Sara leaned close and kissed him. They stopped at a crossroads. Angus swallowed. “The store’s going to close.”

“See you tomorrow,” Sara said with a satisfied smile.

“Yeah, you will for sure,” Angus replied. “Okay. Right.” Then he remembered the promise he’d made to himself back in the forest. And Angus kissed Sara. [pgs. 125-126]

‘Darn’ is used twice.

Conclusion. So-so. A story of courage and camaraderie, but with accompanying negative content.

Review © 2013 Laura Verret

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