Today is “Marooned Without A Compass Day”. I love a holiday, any holiday, so I enjoy that there is a designation for pretty much every day of the year should you choose to celebrate. I’m a particular fan of “Talk Like A Pirate Day” (Sept. 19) and “Squirrel Appreciation Day” (Jan. 21).
Now I realize that today, “Marooned Without A Compass Day”, I could go all existential and talk about the deep emotional feelings of being adrift in life without guidance or direction, searching for meaning and fulfillment, alone and trapped in an existence made of chance or misfortune. Or there is the whole “moral compass” angle to consider. Or I could wax poetic as a travel-blogger about going forth to discover the world without plans or preparation to fully immerse yourself in genuine (or scary, unsafe, life-threatening) experiences.
What fun is that? I prefer to embrace this holiday with the same attitude that I give to “Name Your Car Day” (Oct. 2)*, with a bit of humor and irreverence. Today I choose to pay tribute to those literary characters who really were “marooned without a compass”. Check out these classic, and not-so-classic stories of shipwreck, deserted islands, and survival.
Shipwreck on the Pirate Islands – In the 18th book in the Geronimo Stilton series we find our intrepid mouse hero stranded on a deserted island, searching for buried treasure. How Geronimo, who seems to long for a quiet life in Mouse City, always winds up in the most precarious situations is a mystery – but always a fun read! (ER-2)
The Shipwrecked Sailor: An Egyptian Tale with Hieroglyphs – by Tamara Bower is the retelling of a centuries old tale, discovered on papyrus, written in hieroglyphs, that tells of a shipwrecked sailor who soon discovers he is not alone. He befriends a mystical serpent prince who bestows riches upon the sailor to take back to the King of Egypt when he is finally rescued. (MR-3/4)
Marooned On The Pirate Coast – by Melinda Rice is part of the Lone Star Heroines Series, focusing on Texas state history. I’ve included it because the main character is 11 year old Georgina, who is shipwrecked off the coast of Texas, near Galveston, and learns to survive with help from the Karankawa tribe. And she is rescued by famous pirate, Jean Laffite! This story of a strong female heroine holds a place among the boy-centered stories! (MR-3/4)
Shipwrecked!: The True Adventures of a Japanese Boy– Rhoda Blumberg enthusiastically brings to life the story of 14 year-old Manjiro. In the early 1800’s Manjiro’s fishing boat is shipwrecked 300 miles away from his home in Japan. He knows, due to the laws of the time, that he can never return. When he is finally rescued by a whaling ship, Manjiro takes a chance to go where no Japanese person had gone before, to America! In his quest to understand American culture, receive an education and undertake amazing adventures Manjiro becomes a hero in his homeland.
Robinson Crusoe – The ultimate, classic shipwreck story, written in 1719 by Daniel Defoe, is a survival booklist must-read. Crusoe is by far the most famous literary character ever to be “marooned without a compass”. This novel, told in journal form, of his struggle for survival is required for anyone looking for deserted island adventure . (MR-5 – click here, Robinson Crusoe, for the unabridged YA/Classic version)
The Swiss Family Robinson – If being shipwrecked alone is a bit much to handle, there is always Johann D. Wyss’ tale of the Robinson family, who find themselves stranded on a tropical island. Together, with their wits, ingenuity, love – and quite a few supplies they salvage from the wreckage of their ship – they make a home out of the uninhabited jungle. (MR-5 – click here, The Swiss Family Robinson, for the unabridged version – Classic/YA/MR-6&up)
*I just got a new car this week. We haven’t named him yet, but I doubt we’ll wait for next October before christening him with a delightful moniker which will hopefully embody all the awesomeness that is a minivan.