Rooke’s Island: The Prophecy of the Staring Eyes
S. K. Whalen
Reviewed by Maya Landers (age 10) for Reader Views (3/08)
“Rooke’s Island,” by S. K. Whalen, is well suited for younger readers because the only enemy the main character, Margery Mutters, has to face is a crazy old owl by the name of Cockeye. Although Margery faces some challenges, they are scarce, and she recovers from them in a matter of minutes.
Margery Mutters (well, her given name is Adelaine Margery Josephine Hilda-Ann Mutters, but she prefers just Margery) finds a rather unusual envelope in the mail. It has two black eyes on it that seem to watch Margery. The letter bids Margery come to Rooke’s Island, so she does. Once she arrives on the mainland, she spends the night in the hideous Purple Inn. The next day, on her way to Rooke’s Island, she meets Mike, a boy whose face and hair resemble hers almost exactly. These mysterious similarities will be explained during the course of the novel.
When Margery arrives on Rooke’s Island, she finds Mike waiting for her. Together, they discover that Rook’s Island is a haven for owls. To discover this fact, they first have to make the journey to Inner Earth, the place where most of the owls live. On the way, Cockeye, the crazy old owl, tries to stop them from arriving. He is easily dissuaded, however. In fact, there are few real challenges for Margery or Mike to face during the course of the story. Even when a challenge appears, they are able to overcome it with little to no difficulty.
The plot moves quickly, perhaps even too quickly. For instance, one minute Margery is gardening at her home, the next minute she has arrived at Alwyn’s Village. When Margery first gets to Alwyn’s Village, which is the mainland near Rooke’s Island, she is greeted by Gabriella (Gabbi) Mooleys. Gabbi, the chatty owner of the Purple Inn where Margery spends the night, talks mostly about things that are completely irrelevant to what Margery was discussing.
During the course of the story, Margery changed in several significant ways. Her new friendship with Mike helps her smile at what previously would have driven her crazy, such as her encounter with Gabbi. Even more important, however, is the gift Margery received when she first arrived on the island: the gift of being able to speak to owls. Margery did not face dangerous challenges, and the smaller ones that she did encounter were conquered swiftly. “Rooke’s Island” would be a good choice for a read-aloud or for young, easily-frightened children.