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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Great Wednesday Compare #4- Island of the Blue Dolphins VERSUS Bridge to Terabithia



The winner of the last Great Wednesday Compare ( Robinson Crusoe vs. Island of the Blue Dolphins), with a final score of 6-4 was Island of the Blue Dolphins.

I recently attended a writer's workshop with Hayden Trenholm and at one point he asked if anyone knew what the first English novel was. Thinking I was being all literary and impressive, I put up my hand to say it was Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe. "No," Trenholm corrected, "it was Tom Jones by Henry Fielding." That hadn't been what I had come to believe, but I wasn't confident on the publication dates or any supporting evidence, so I let it go, with the promise to look into when I got home. Turns out Trenholm was wrong. Robinson Crusoe was first published in 1719, while Tom Jones wouldn't be published for another 30 years, in 1749. So was I right? Depends on who you ask and what their definition of novel is. However, at the very least, my answer is a contender in the great debate while Trenholm's is not.

Supposing Robinson Crusoe was the first English novel, does that fact alone make it superior (over Island of the Blue Dolphins, or any other novel for that matter)? Rocket 88 is often cited as the first rock and roll song. The Jazz Singer is the first "talkie" movie. With no disrespect for either of those, there have certainly been better rock songs to come along and better movies. But Robinson Crusoe surpasses those two works. It is no mere Trivial Pursuit answer. Quick show of hands: how many have heard Rocket 88? How many have watched The Jazz Singer? Now, how many have read Robinson Crusoe? The fact that it's still read by so many people today suggests something of its quality. Is it better than Island of the Blue Dolphins? According to the last Great Wednesday Compare, no. It is possible that O'Dell took Defoe's premise and wrote a better novel. Then, O'Dell had over 200 years' worth of novels to study the form. Defoe's accomplishment cannot be denied.

These time around, we keep with a YA theme.

Remember, vote simply by adding your comment below, base it on whatever merit you choose, voting does not end until Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. (August 4th, 2009), and if you want your book to get more votes, feel free to promote them here or on your blog!

Which is better?

14 comments:

Wanda said...

I loved both these books when I read them and enjoyed them again with my oldest daughter when she was in grade three. If I could only choose one to pass on to my youngest daughter though, it would be Bridge to Terabithia.

raidergirl3 said...

Bridge to Terabithia is a wonderful book! I read both in the last few years, and much preferred Bridge to Terabithia.

Remi said...

I don't know much about either book but I do like the colour blue, so Dolphins it is.

Something to remember if they ever bring out a bookworm's edition of Trivial Pursuit - one of the first sci-fi novels ever written was by a Canadian. James DeMille's A Strange Manuscript Found In A Copper Cylinder. Of course, that first ever tag is probably up for debate, as well.

John Mutford said...

Remi: They do have such an edition.

Daibhin said...

Bridge to Terabithia!

Lahni said...

My son and I got bored of Bridge to Terabithia so I'm going to have to go with Island of the Blue Dolphins again.

Heather said...

This is the first time I have read both books in recent memory. I am going with "island of the blue dolphins" the story stuck with me much longer.

Nicola said...

Well, I've read and liked both books but honestly I think they are both over-rated. They are good, not great. I don't want to pass up on entering a vote so I'll say Bridge to Terabithia just so the other, hopefully, won't win twice in a row. (It didn't deserve to beat Robinison Crusoe, imho)

Melanie said...

I'm with Nicola; they are both overrated. I can't vote for either this time!

Bybee said...

bridge, mos def.

Carrie K said...

Island.

Hmm. I've seen The Jazz Singer, read Robinson Crusoe but I've never heard of Rocket 88. Did Elton John sing it? (kidding).

pussreboots said...

Island of the Blue Dolphins. Terabithia makes me cringe.

Rosemary said...

Island of the Blue Dolphins! I read it in 4th grade or so and used to pretend that I too was marooned. True, my island was my backyard and my pack of dogs included two malteses and a cocker spaniel, but boy, what adventures I dreamed up.

C. B. James said...

I have read Robinson Crusoe and all I can say is it's no Moll Flanders. Moll Flanders is much better.

Bridge to Terebithia is my choice.