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Literature / Abel's Island

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1976 children's book by William Steig (the creator of Shrek), adapted into an Emmy Award winning 1989 animated film starring Tim Curry.

Abelard 'Abel' Hassan de Chirico Flint is a pampered fop of a mouse who lives a luxurious life in 1907 with his wife Amanda. While out on a picnic, Amanda's scarf blows away, and Abel tries to retrieve it, only to be blown into a river and washed downstream.

He winds up on a Deserted Island, and must learn to survive on his own, despite his sheltered life. The book chronicles his year as a castaway, the Character Development he goes through as a result, and his attempts to escape the island so he can see Amanda again.


Abel's Island Contains The Following Tropes:

  • The Aloner: Abel becomes this while on the island.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Abelard Hassan de Chirico Flint
  • Brick Joke: "I brought back your scarf".
  • Cats Are Mean: After escaping the island, Abel encounters a cat who chases him, but he is wily enough to escape.
  • Caught in the Rain: What started this whole mess.
  • Character Development: Abel goes from being a useless spoiled mouse to a canny survivor.
  • Companion Cube: Using clay from the riverbank, Abel teaches himself to sculpt, and makes statues of Amanda, Gower, and his family to talk to. He also speaks to a star and imagines Amanda's voice speaking back to him from it.
  • Cool Old Guy: Gower, an old frog who washes up on the island as well, and gives Abel some much needed company for a while.
  • Deserted Island: The setting for most of the story. It's in the middle of a river that any human could ford easily, but for a mouse it is truly treacherous.
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  • The Ditz: Gower has a lousy memory, and can forget where he is midway through a conversation. He eventually regains enough of his strength to swim away from the island, but Abel is certain he will forget to send help.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Abel makes it home to Amanda, but man he goes through hell to do so.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: Abel freely admits that he does this a little bit, but mostly it's out of relief that the weather has turned nice again and he isn't stuck in his log shelter.
  • Happily Married: Abel and Amanda. Abel spends a lot of time thinking about how to get back to her.
  • Hidden Depths: After using clay to make some plates and bowls, Abel gives sculpting a try. His first statue fails to impress, but he quickly gets better, and soon wonders if he has it in him to be an artist.
  • Hope Spot: Gower promises to send help. Either he doesn't make it back, or his awful memory means he doesn't remember his time on the island at all. Abel suspects the latter.
  • I Fell for Hours: Abel has a dream like this, upon waking up he realizes he has actually fallen out of a tree.
  • Idle Rich: Abel inherited wealth from his mother, and has no job. However, his time on the island teaches him patience and hard work, and between that and the discovery of his Hidden Depths, he considers becoming a sculptor.
  • Imagine Spot: Abel dreams often, and imagines a star speaking to him with his wife's voice. At one point he convinces himself this may be real, and tries to contact her psychically. Doesn't work, but he feels like he came close.
  • Island Help Message: Abel leaves signs with his name in conspicuous spots around the island, in case anyone else visits the island.
  • Meaningful Name: Over the course of a year, Abel becomes Able.
  • Message in a Bottle: Abel sends a message downstream on a small handmade boat, but nothing comes of it.
  • Mouse World: Humans are never seen, but he does find a human sized book and pocket watch. Unusually for this trope, Abel would be all too happy to contact whoever left them, and leaves signs around in case they come back.
  • Nice Mice
  • Ominous Owl: An owl twice attacks Abel, and is portrayed quite scarily.
  • Precision F-Strike: It's a kids story, but Abel doesn't hesitate to theorize that the owl is from hell.
  • Robinsonade: Abel is trapped on an island after being swept away by a storm.
  • Sand Bridge at Low Tide: Not quite, but after a few weeks of no rain, the water gets lower and the current slow enough that Abel imagines he might now be able to swim across. He makes it.
  • Sad-Times Montage: Much of his time on the island, especially when he first gets there, and the horrible winter he suffers through.
  • Snowed-In: Winter isn't easy for Abel; he can do nothing but huddle in his log shelter, eating what little food he has been able to gather, and unable to make a fire lest he burn his home down.
  • Sympathetic Magic: After each encounter with the owl, it leaves behind a feather. Abel plants them in the ground and tries to invoke vile curses on the beast through them.
  • Took a Level in Badass: In his first meeting with the owl, Abel can do little but flee for his life, and desperately fight with a woefully tiny knife. By the next time he has made a spear, is a lot more confident, and successfully drives the bird off. It doesn't mess with him again after that.

Alternative Title(s): Abels Island


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