Best 1957 Adventures (8)
August 3, 2017
One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1957 adventure novels. Happy 60th anniversary!
Raymond Abrashkin and Jay Williams’s 1957 YA Robinsonade Danny Dunn on a Desert Island.
The second of the fifteen Danny Dunn novels, in which adolescent scientist Danny, his friend Joe Pearson, Professor Bulfinch and Doctor Grimes crash land on an island near the Galapagos, is my favorite. Though far-fetched, it’s the least science-fictional of the series. Employing only whatever materials they happened to be carrying with them, the group demonstrates engineering know-how as they develop increasingly advanced technologies, then develop a plan to be rescued. (The book is dated in its depiction of island natives, though when Joe ends up in a big pot it’s not what you might expect.) Illustrated by the great Ezra Jack Keats.
Fun fact: In Learning from the Left, Julia Mickenberg’s survey of radical political themes in Cold War-era children’s lit, she notes that the Danny Dunn adventures were intended by their authors — Abrashkin, who had been a journalist for the leftist paper PM; and Williams, who went on to write The Practical Princess and Other Liberating Fairy Tales — to introduce kids to scientific methods and concepts, and in doing so to suggest science’s liberating potential, i.e., versus the enchantment of the status quo.
Let me know if I’ve missed any 1957 adventures that you particularly admire.