Jones, Lloyd. Mister Pip. New York: Dial Press, 2006.
Mr. Watts is an oddity. He's white on an island of black people. When the teachers flee the island, Mr. Watts steps in to teach the children. His only text is Charles Dickens' Great Expectations. When the redskins attack the village, Mr. Watts is protected. When the redskins come back, Mr. Watts faces a different fate. This is the "Pacific version of Great Expectations" (Jones 175).
I enjoyed reading this book. It took me a little while to understand why Mr. Watts was such an odd thing, but as his story unfolds, we also see how the children he's teaching are taught imagination can save them.
One of my favorite descriptions in this book is when Matilda describes her love affair with this book. "No one had told us kids to look there [in a book] for a friend" (Jones 24). Later Mr. Watts is explaining to Matilda that one "cannot pretend to read a book. Your eyes will give you away. So will your breathing. A person entranced by a book simply forgets to breathe" (Jones 155).
I was disturbed by two events in the story that take place at almost the same time. I won't spoil them here, but the visual that my mind's eye sees about this episode is very disturbing.