Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Bright Island” as Want to Read:
Bright Island
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Bright Island

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  307 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews
Born and raised on Bright Island off the Maine coast, Thankful Curtis is more like her sea captain grandfather than any of her older brothers are. Nothing suits her better than sailing and helping her father with the farm. But when her dreaded sisters-in-law suggest that Thankful get some proper schooling on the mainland, the wind is knocked from her sails.

Thankful finds t
Hardcover, 268 pages
Published March 28th 1965 by Random House Children's Books (first published 1937)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Bright Island, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Bright Island

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
May 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wish I'd known this book when I belonged to the target age group. It feels like an unexpected amalgam of a Heidi, Anne of the Island, and Swallows and Amazons, with a little Railway Children thrown in for good measure - the isolated girl who is just fine with staying that way, who has to carve out a place for herself among townsfolk; the extraordinary girl going away from her beloved home to school, a completely foreign environment where she is seen as a hick but proves herself and wins good f ...more
Michael Fitzgerald
Oct 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a magnificent book that is engaging and rewarding. While the situations are perhaps not commonplace today, the emotions are no less apropos. The story is somewhat typical, but is nevertheless interesting. It does not resolve in the expected way and yet is entirely satisfying. What I noticed, however, was that the book is written in a style that is strikingly different from that found in children's fiction of recent vintage. Too many of today's books seem dumbed down through the influence ...more
Stephanie A.
The descriptions of the island and island life are beautiful, reminding me of Misty of Chincoteague, but even after she resigns herself to life on the mainland, her boarding school and the small slightly-inland town are lovely in their own way as she learns to navigate this strange and noisy territory full of other teens, including such tropes as A Dashing Boy and a sophisticated and standoffish roommate. Even though she's out of her element, she never loses her natural determination and sense o ...more
Jun 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: newbery-honor
Didn’t have high hopes for this 1938 Newbery Honor about a remote island off the coast of Maine even after I was a few chapters deep. Maritime-themed books seldom hold my interest. And on top of that, it seems the earlier I get on the honor roll the less enjoyable the book. But I was wrong. The tomboy-ish main character, Thankful, is likeable. It is a coming of age Cinderella story of a girl who goes from being home-schooled to an elite, well-to-do boarding school where she is at first ridiculed ...more
Jun 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics, young-adult
I loved the beauty and feel of this book. It reminded me of the way it feels to read stories like The Penderwicks, The Boxcar Children, The Happy Hollisters, Charlotte's Web, Little Women, Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables and such. Written over 75 years ago it still has a timeless feel to it especially as a coming of age story. The descriptions of the island and the sea were so beautiful that you imagined them to be 2 more characters in the story.

I was thinking about the charac
Nov 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, favorites
This is just the kind of old-fashioned book I love, very reminiscent of A Girl of the Limberlost. Thankful's understanding but no-nonsense mother also reminds me of Velvet's mother in National Velvet. And there are some boarding-school elements as well, another of my favorite themes. I can't believe I'd never heard of it before, but now it's been re-issued for its 75th anniversary.
Aug 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
In the same vein as The Bent Twig, Up a Road Slowly, even Understood Betsy. Elisabeth Ogilvie comes to mind too. Loved it.
I chose this book because once-upon-a-time it was a Newbery Honor book, but, meh.
"Bright Island" is a coming-of-age story about Thankful Curtis, a young girl who has grown up as basically an only child (her brothers are much older) on an island where no other families live. She has been home-schooled, and spent most of her time alone. She doesn't much care for other people, and has a difficult time fitting in when she goes to spend a year on the mainland to finish high school. The book takes pl
Bethany Scofield
Jan 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is just a beautiful book. It shunned the frivolous chattiness of shallowness and deeply plunged into the steady beauty of a life deeply felt and bravely lived. It's a romance in its very practical way which suited me perfectly. I can't stand romance books usually. There was so much good in this book. I have a new favorite.
Jan 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Such a wonderful character. It reminds me of Anne of Green Gables, but without all the annoying prattle. This speaks beautifully of how place becomes part of you.
Dec 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved this simple but luminous 1938 Newbery Honor book. A few favorite quotes:

"This was the most peaceful spot that she had found. The tide flowed back over bare and thirsty spaces. She felt refreshed in the vigor of her own thoughts."

"[Her mother] opened Thankful's door softly, and with competent hands covered her until only the cloudy head buried in the pillows was visible. Then she left her in the quiet room with the sound of Jed's motor going across the water, fainter and fainter. It was Mar
Adam Housley
Dec 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classics, pleasure
I can see why this book is a Newberry award winner. Having just finished reading this book to my fourth grader tonight, I must confess that Robinson writing style has a choppy style too it. Not to say that her writing is not excellent and worthy of praise, but it was a challenge to read aloud. The story: it's good, not great, but I love the narrator's discovery of her love for home and her grandfather, not to mention her shunning modern society.
Steve Ward
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a well written book that was quite enjoyable to read. The author’s descriptive writing is the strength of this book along with her excellent character development. I’d recommend this book to any reader over 8 years old.
Amy Dance
Jun 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed this book a lot, but it left a few loose ends (Fletcher) that weren't settled to my satisfaction.
The story & language is timeless, rather than dated.
Mary Jo
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Definitely deserving of the Newbery Award! A charming story that holds interest until the last page.
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: newbery
Sssllllllooooowwww. Like watching a 3 hour BBC show that an American network could manage in 45 minutes.
Katie Fitzgerald
This review also appears on my blog, Read-at-Home Mom.

Thankful Curtis is the youngest of Mary Curtis’s children and the only girl. Her six brothers have married and left the family home on Bright Island, but Thankful has no such desires. She wants to remain in the place she loves most, where she can hold tightly to memories of her beloved grandfather. Unfortunately, Thankful’s family is concerned that she hasn’t been properly educated about “what a girl is for,” so they decide that she must atte

In 1937, Bright Island off the coast of Maine is uninhabited by anyone except the Curtis family. Thankful Curtis would have it no other way. With her older brothers grown and off the island, she can swim and sail to her heart's content. A tomboy, Thankful resists her sisters-in-law attempts to civilize her. Then, Thankful's parents decide she must attend school on the mainland. Thankful tries to rebel, insisting her place is on the island, but she learns it was her beloved grandfather's wish tha
Julie Barrett
Bright Island by Mabel L. Robinson
ISBN: 9780394809861
First thing that attracted me to this book was that it's about an island. Love islands as I spent many a year in my teens growing up on one local one.
Next thing is the state of Maine. We have traveled around the state and have spent many a week there just discovering new things.
Mary Curtis has 6, 4 living boys who were now all married and living on the mainland and the last child she had a daughter which she named, Thankful.
They were all co
Julie Barrett
Mar 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Bright Island by Mabel L. Robinson
ISBN: 9780394809861
First thing that attracted me to this book was that it's about an island. Love islands as I spent many a year in my teens growing up on one local one.
Next thing is the state of Maine. We have traveled around the state and have spent many a week there just discovering new things.
Mary Curtis has 6, 4 living boys who were now all married and living on the mainland and the last child she had a daughter which she named, Thankful.
They were all co
The Library Lady
Okay, listen up, hipsters of the Newberys/Cybils/Whatever.
This is a cautionary tale.

Back in 1938 the NY Times raved "One would be hard put to it to find a better contemporary novel than this" and perhaps it was. And perhaps it was worthy of a Newbery Honor.

But in 2013 I can't see a kid happily reading this.
Or perhaps, before I get a slough of 12 year olds/homeschooling moms/childless librarians and teachers telling me otherwise--I can't see the average kid of 2013 reading this one

Plenty of fict
Nov 26, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lisa
Newly reissued for the 75th anniversary of its publication, this book should find some new readership with a spiffy new cover. Set rather exotically on a small island off the coast of Maine, the novel explores one year in the life of Thankful Curtis, a high-school aged girl whose loyalty and love for her home and the natural world takes precedence over all things. Her six older brothers have all married and left home to live on the mainland, and their wives feel strongly that Thankful should be ...more
Thomas Bell
It was okay. A girl named Thankful is very independent, and it seems that everyone is trying to get her to conform - especially her Sisters-in-Law, which to me are still all the same person even though there are 4 of them. And she resists. Unfortunately, by the end she does kind of become her mother and it is meant to be a good thing. Oh, well.

Also, this book teaches about jerks. Yep, there is one named Robert. For all you Jane Austen fans out there, this guy is a LOT like Mr. Wickham from Pride
Sid S.
Sep 25, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: september-shelve
It is a story about a girl, Thankful Curtis, who is born and raised off the coast of Maine. During her initial years she is home schooled by her mother, Mary Curtis, who is a phenomenal teacher. Thankful loves sailing and helping her father with the farm. Her sisters-in-law suggest that she should get some proper schooling in the mainland.

Thankful had to unwilling leave Bright Island and live in a hostel in the mainland. She was a shy but an intelligent student, and finally manages to make frie
Virginia Walter
Dec 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-books
I read the paperback reissue of this 1938 Newbery honor book. Sixteen-year-old Thankful Curtis has been raised on an island off the Maine coast. Schooled by her Scottish mother and taught to sail by her sea captain grandfather, she loves her life there. Now she must face the prospect of attending a boarding school on the mainland and learning "what a woman does." It is a gentle coming-of-age story written in a more innocent time for more innocent teens. Still, there are situations and characters ...more
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Robinson, Mabel Bright Island pg. 276 Yearling 2012 Language: (0 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content-G; Violence: G;

Thankful lives on Bright Island where her mother and father taught her everything they could. She was sent to the mainland to go to school; at first she hated it, but she learned that her grandfather paid her to go, and she found some good friends and classes that she liked. She received a message that her mother was ill, she found a doctor to come with her to Bright Island.

I thought t
Jul 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
I finally finished reading this book. It really took me back to the '60s! The author and his future wife had a very unique relationship during their courtship by mail. Almost a "When Harry Met Sally" , in that they both dated other people and "talked" to each other about it. They finally decided that they were meant for each other their senior year in college and tied the knot right after they graduated.
One cool thing, as I received this book from Goodreads FirstReads in exchange for a review,
Thankful Curtis loves her life on Bright Island. She is happy to help her father on the farm and even happier sailing the sea like her grandfather before her. Thankful is devastated when her interfering yet well-intentioned sisters-in-law decide she needs some formal schooling on the mainland. She has an incredibly hard time fitting in with her classmates and teachers. She tries her best to adjust though her heart and thoughts are always on Bright Island. This delightful coming-of-age story won ...more
Mar 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
I read this one weekend morning in bed under a feather quilt with a coffee cup at my side all in one go and I think that it might just be the ideal way to read it. I think this book would have been magic when I was young because it was still pretty magical now, reading it for the first time. Girl grows up on remote Maine Island, goes to boarding school, encounters love and friendship etc etc. - like Anne of Green Gables crossed with Linda Greenlaw. So cozy. And I suggest the new reedition with t ...more
Apr 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book was written 75 years ago, so I do not know how I missed it. I should clarify for my friends this is a children/young adult book. Similar to reading a Betsy Tacy or Anne of Green Gables story.

Bright Island, Maine is a place you might want to live if you were okay with no electricity and your best friend being a lame seagull. Have I hooked you yet? Thankful Curtis is a charming main/Maine character. You will fly along with her as she plays on her island and then struggle with her when sh
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »
  • All Sail Set: A Romance of the Flying Cloud
  • Pecos Bill: The Greatest Cowboy of All Time
  • Frontier Living: An Illustrated Guide to Pioneer Life in America
  • Downright Dencey
  • All Alone
  • The Old Tobacco Shop
  • The Jumping-Off Place
  • Journey Outside
  • Belling the Tiger
  • The Cow-Tail Switch: And Other West African Stories
  • Thistle and Thyme: Tales and Legends from Scotland
  • The Avion My Uncle Flew
  • The Blue Cat of Castle Town
  • Black Fox of Lorne
  • The Windy Hill
  • The Horsecatcher
  • Sugaring Time
  • Tree of Freedom
Attended Radcliffe College 1900-03, earning bachelor's degree in education (1903) and later master's degree (1907).

Taught classes in zoology at Wellesley College from 1904 to 1916.

Earned PhD from Columbia University (1915) and taught advanced fiction workshops there from 1919 to 1945.
More about Mabel Louise Robinson

Young Adult Deals

  • Bright Smoke, Cold Fire (Bright Smoke, Cold Fire, #1)
    $3.99 $0.99
  • The Gold-Son
    $3.99 $1.99
  • How to Say I Love You Out Loud
    $7.09 $2.99
  • The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Scat
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Chomp
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Nyxia (The Nyxia Triad, #1)
    $10.99 $1.99
  • I See London, I See France
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Fifth of March: A Story of the Boston Massacre (Great Episodes)
    $8.99 $2.99
  • Starfish
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Olive's Ocean
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Rebel Wing (Rebel Wing #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes, #1)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Little Monsters
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Thickety: A Path Begins
    $6.24 $1.99
  • Lost Voices
    $5.99 $2.99
  • This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity, #1)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • 13 Little Blue Envelopes (Little Blue Envelope, #1)
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Isle of Blood and Stone
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Loved (House of Night Other World #1)
    $11.00 $0.99
  • Train I Ride
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Haven (War of the Princes, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society
    $7.99 $2.99
  • The Immortal Circus (Cirque des Immortels, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Moving Castle, #1)
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Greyhound
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Annie on My Mind
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Secret of the Sirens (The Companions Quartet, #1)
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Beautiful Darkness (Caster Chronicles, #2)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Now I Rise (The Conqueror's Saga #2)
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Into the Dim
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Curse (Blur Trilogy #3)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Fury (Blur Trilogy #2)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Crash (Crash, #1)
    $4.24 $1.99
  • Blur  (Blur Trilogy #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Taken (Taken, #1)
    $2.99 $0.99
  • The Fighting Ground
    $6.49 $1.99
  • Vengeance Road
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Ungifted
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Julie of the Wolves
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Storm (Elemental, #1)
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Dreamfall (Dreamfall #1)
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Things We Know by Heart
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Imitation (Clone Chronicles #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Space Between Heartbeats (Betwixt #1)
    $3.99 $0.99
  • The Secret of a Heart Note
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Internet Famous
    $7.80 $2.99
  • Kissing in America
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Every Ugly Word
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy (Bloody Jack, #1)
    $8.99 $2.99
  • Genesis
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Old Yeller
    $6.99 $1.99
  • After the Game (The Field Party, #3)
    $10.99 $1.99
  • And I Darken (The Conqueror's Saga, #1)
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Ticker
    $3.99 $0.99
  • How To Keep Rolling After a Fall
    $7.09 $2.99
  • No Love Allowed
    $7.09 $2.99
  • The Concealed (Lakewood, #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »