"There is — though I do not know how there is or why there is — a sense of infinite peace and protection in the glittering hosts of heaven. There it must be, I think, in the vast and eternal laws of matter, and not in the daily cares and sins and troubles of men, that whatever is more than animal within us must find its solace and its hope." - from The Island of Dr. Moreau
What's it about?: When shipwreck survivor Edward Prendick winds up on a mysterious island, he is taken in and cared for by a self-professed biologist named Dr. Moreau. He notices that there is something quite strange about the the island and the compound in which he is staying, and even thinks he recognizes the biologist's name. Soon, he remembers that Dr. Moreau is a vivisectionist he'd heard about back home and, after hearing repeated agonizing screams in the compound, Prendick escapes into the dark forest. It's there where he encounters strange half-human, half-animal creatures. Among the many he discovers are an Ape Man, a Leopard Man, a Wolf-Bear and Swine Folk. Prendick finds out that Dr. Moreau has been conducting experiments to create these human/animal hybrids for some time, justifying them with his beliefs about science and morality. Prendick then tries desperately to elude Dr. Moreau and the creatures that stalk him until he can find a way to escape the island for good.
Why your child should read it: H.G. Wells is a master storyteller and possesses one of the greatest literary minds in the English language. If his fascinating tale of being shipwrecked on an island with a disgraced doctor who likes to play God and a host of hybrid animal-humans doesn't intrigue your child, little else will. Contained within the compelling narrative is some meditation on the relation between man and beast — both physical and philosophical — and the moral implications of man's actions when God's creations are tampered with. Oh, and did we mention the novel is quite short? At under 200 pages, an avid reader will finish it within a few days. As well, guess what popular, long-running cartoon set in Springfield paid homage to this book in one of their iconic "Halloween" episodes?