Jack the Castaway

From the Series The Berenson Schemes

  • Interest Level: Grade 4 - Grade 6
  • Reading Level: Grade 4

Jack’s parents have been chased out of Tokyo, gone broke in Greece, and hosted Nairobi’s least successful safari. Next they’re taking Jack on a Caribbean vacation—whether Jack wants to go or not. The Berensons are about to start a snorkeling business. It’s their latest get-rich-quick scheme. With these experienced world travelers at the helm, what could go wrong?

Jack’s used to staying indoors and not taking chances. When his parents take him out on the water, he ends up shipwrecked. Now Jack has to survive on a tropical island…and avoid a whale shark that’s swimming near the beach.

Format Your Price Add
Interest Level Grade 4 - Grade 6
Reading Level Grade 4
Copyright 2014
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Darby Creek ™
Language English
Number of Pages 152
Publication Date 2014-08-01
Reading Counts! Level 3.5
Text Type Fiction—Action/Adventure
BISACS JUV044000, JUV013000, JUV019000
Dewey [Fic]
Graphics 1-color illustrations
Dimensions 5.25 x 7.5
Lexile 620
Guided Reading Level T
ATOS Reading Level 4.5
Accelerated Reader® Quiz 164139
Accelerated Reader® Points 3.0
Features Author/Illustrator biography and Reviewed

Author: Lisa Doan

Lisa Doan received a master's degree in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. As a professional vagabond, she has traveled extensively through Africa and Asia and lived on a Caribbean island for eight years. Her variety of professions have included Master Scuba Diving Instructor, New York City headhunter, Owner/Chef of a Chinese restaurant, television show Set Medic and Deputy Prothonotary of a county court. She wrote her first book during a Caribbean slow season while waiting for restaurant customers. She currently lives in Pennsylvania with a Great Dane who stares her down for biscuits.

Illustrator: Ivica Stevanovic

Ivica Stevanovic has illustrated numerous picture books, as well as book covers and graphic novels. He lives in Veternik, Serbia, with his wife, who is also a children's illustrator, and their daughter.

Lerner eSource™ offers free digital teaching and learning resources, including Common Core State Standards (CCSS) teaching guides. These guides, created by classroom teachers, offer short lessons and writing exercises that give students specific instruction and practice using Common Core skills and strategies. Lerner eSource also provides additional resources including online activities, downloadable/printable graphic organizers, and additional educational materials that would also support Common Core instruction. Download, share, pin, print, and save as many of these free resources as you like!

The Berenson Schemes

Jack Berenson, a phobia-plagued, checklist-making sixth grader, just wants a normal childhood. But he keeps getting caught up in his globe-trotting parents’ get-rich-quick schemes. Throughout the humorous, adventure-driven series, Jack has to survive a smorgasbord of international… View available downloads →


B&N Teen Blog

When I think of survival stories, the first two that come to mind are Hatchet by Gary Paulsen and Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. Both are classics worth reading, but there’s a great big world of other terrific survivalist stories for middle grade readers. Here are just a few:

Jack the Castaway, by Lisa Doan and Ivica Stevanovic
Jack’s parents are semi-successful world travelers. No matter the adventure, something always goes horribly wrong, but they always manage to make it out alive. For their next grand trip, they’re taking Jack on a Caribbean adventure as part of their get-rich-quick plan to start a snorkeling business. As always, something goes wrong, but this time Jack finds himself shipwrecked on a remote island, and his parents nowhere to be seen. The first in an adventure series for younger readers, Jack the Castaway is just the right combination of adventure and humor.


“In Doan’s entertaining debut, Jack’s misadventures begin once his absentee parents show up and whisk him off to the Caribbean. . . . Doan’s swiftly paced narrative is well matched by Stevanovic’s cartoony illustrations.” —Booklist

School Library Journal

“The story is a well-written debut novel and an introduction to a fun cast of characters and a series certain to be full of adventure. Pencil illustrations bring life to Jack and all of the craziness he and his family experience. This will likely entertain even the most reluctant of readers.” —School Library Journal

Publishers Weekly

“Launching the Berenson Schemes series, Doan’s debut novel pits cautious Jack Berenson against his reckless parents with uproarious results….Stevanovic’s caricatured spot illustrations match up well with this funny and adventure-filled story of parent-child role reversal.” —Publishers Weekly

Kirkus Reviews

“Readers will be charmed by Jack, whose flair for checklists and self-preservation is both humorous and endearing. Middle-grade readers who tend to leave their socks on the floor will surely be intrigued by a kid whose first order of business upon being shipwrecked is to do laundry.” —Kirkus Reviews

Margaret Nevinski

“If you want to laugh until your sides hurt, rush out and find a copy of Jack the Castaway by Lisa Doan…I’m looking forward to more adventures and misadventures—assuming Jack and Loco get off that island.”―Margaret Nevinski, author of Floating

Brent Hartinger

“Jack takes life seriously—sometimes too seriously. His parents don’t take life seriously at all. The result is Lisa Doan’s very fun and funny comedy of errors, Jack the Castaway. In this entertaining story, it’s the parents who learn from the kid!” —Brent Hartinger, author of Geography Club