My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Review: THE SECRET OF BALD ROCK ISLAND : KARE KIDS ADVENTURES #1 by Charles A. Salter
Off the Maine Coast is a schizoid island named Bald Rock, where half the land is lush with grass and trees in a lovely, pleasant, environment. The other side of the island contains enormous, and dangerous, Bald Rock, whose hollow core leads to the ocean. While the island's children play happily in the park and listen avidly to the prescriptive storytelling of Mr. Bartleby, one young girl, Kelcie, determines to unravel the island's secrets.
THE SECRET OF BALD ROCK ISLAND is a contemporary middle-grade mystery with a generous old-fashioned heart. It made me fondly reminisce of childhood favorites Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and the Boxcar Children.
View all my reviews
Charles A. Salter author of The Secret of Bald Rock Island (KareKids Adventures #1)
A: For the past few years I have become increasingly concerned about the trend in our society to infantilize young people and make them dependent on the ‘nanny state’ rather than independent and mature adults who can help lead our society into the future. I hope my series will help young people realize they do possess heroic qualities and can make a difference by standing for what they believe and seeking to help others.
A: I know some people like to outline their entire novel before starting to write, but I like to begin bydreaming up imaginative new characters and puttingthem into an exciting new situation or crisis. Theysoon begin to take on a life of their own and seem almost real to me, and they’ll tell me how they want toresolve the problem. Early on they will tell me what the ending is, but it is always an exciting adventure for us to discover together how they will get there.
A: Kelcie is a composite of my two daughters. Out of the entire series so far, volume #1 is the only one set in the past—about one generation ago. At that time, my now-adult daughters were children and we often went to Maine (the location for this novel). We saw and experienced the kinds of places described in the book!
A: Kelcie may be only ten years old, but she knows how to think for herself and decide how she can best help others. She is a true “Kare Kid” who not only has a caring attitude towards family, friends, animals, and the environment, but she translates that concern into real action to accomplish her goals. In the surprise ending of the book—when she finally confronts the mysterious island creature face to face—her beliefs and principles about life and nature lead her to suggest an amazing solution to the adults on the scene.
A: Family and friends in this series clearly cherish and care for each other. I would hope these stories would encourage both parents and young readers to do the same. I would hope that young readers would learn the importance of going beyond having a good attitude about others and translating that into real action to help when needed. And I hope parents will learn the wisdom of sometimes stepping back and letting kids work through their own solutions to life’s problems and issues…yet also be available when those kids ask for help.
A: My parents were absolute models for fostering independence in me and my siblings…often to a degree which would be considered illegal these days! I had my first paying job when I was about age 5—babysitting the infant of neighbors who lived in the same apartment building where we did. My mother was in a nearby apartment in case a real problem developed, but I sat with this wonderful kid and read books and took care of him otherwise. Later that yearI took sole care of my baby brother (about age three) when both my parents worked. I dressed and fed and entertained him when I was only 6 and my mother was at work for three hours each morning. A few years later, on non-school days I and my brother or friends would be on our own all day, playing in the woods or riding bikes or playing sports. No cell phones in those days, and we were on our own until meal times. By age 19, I went to England for my college junior-year-abroad and toured all of western Europe with just my friends. During that year I experienced the amazing adventure in Norway which lies at the heart of book #4—THE TRAVEL TWINS AND THE LOST SECRET OF THE VIKINGS.
A: I have always tried to encourage my own children and grandchildren to become independent and make their own decisions about which sports, activities, and careers to choose. I taught them to stand up for what they believe. And this is exactly what Kelcie’s mother and dear family friend, Mr. Bartleby, do for her in this book. As Kelcie comes to grips with the loss of her father years earlier, both adults encourage and help her to work through that process in a mature way.
A: As everyone knows, much of psychology focuses on mental illness and other pathological conditions. But part of the field focuses instead on fostering close and healthy relationships, particularly among parents and children. One area of thought and research in psychology which has always interested me is that about not simply telling kids what to do, but rather encouraging them to think through problems and issues so they can come up with their own insights and solutions. And that is exactly how the adults in this book handle Kelcie’s quest to solve the mysteries of Bald Rock Island.
A: Everything seems different these days compared to when my generation was growing up. Technology certainly has its advantages, but it can also isolate children from healthy and beneficial social relationships. If you’ve ever seen a bunch of kids sitting together, but with each one lost and alone in his/her own electronic device and virtual world, you can sense the downside of technology. Doing things by oneself is not the same as independence. True independence does not imply social isolation but rather the ability to think for oneself and play a leadership role in a social situation.
Parents who want the best for their children will not become over-protective and smother their development by always being present and doing everything for them. Children need to mature by becoming self-reliant and capable of doing things on their own, but they can’t accomplish that if a helicopter parent is always hovering around and making all the decisions.
A: In book #2, CHARLOTTE AND THE MYSTERIOUS VANISHING PLACE, Kelcie is now grown up and her 9-year-old daughter is the star. Charlotte discovers a serious environmental danger in the woods and does everything she can to alert authorities and rescue two trapped puppies. This book is due out on July 1 of this year. In book #3, HOW THREE BROTHERS SAVED THE NAVY, Charlotte’s three cousins uncover a terrorist plot to destroy their navy father’s ship. They show great courage and ingenuity in ferreting out the details and then thwarting the plot. That book is due out in early August. Charlotte’s twin brother and sister should be coming along some time in early fall in book #4, inTHE TRAVEL TWINS AND THE LOST SECRET OF THE VIKINGS. This book’s plot unfolds on a scary (but real) train winding its way high in the beautiful mountains of Norway. Felons with mysterious motives have stolen the famed Leif Erikson Sunstone from their uncle’s Viking museum in Oslo, and the twins decide to get it back.
In all of these books, the Kare Kids can’t rely on magic or super powers to solve their problems. They are realistic kids who live in the real world…BUT they know how to act independently and to translate caring from a mere attitude into genuine action to solve the problems they encounter.