top of page
Story time and learning about Spectacle Island

The Central Artery/Tunnel Project, known as the "Big Dig," was one of the most remarkable engineering feats and roadway construction projects in history. The Rose Kennedy Greenway is a prominent feature. The Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge is a Boston icon and landmark, both a result of the Big Dig. Lesser-known is the transformation of Spectacle Island from a city garbage dump that was once polluting Boston Harbor into a national and state park.

Specs of Spectacle Island is the story of Specs, a chipmunkel born and raised on Spectacle Island, and his journey during the Big Dig. The chipmunkels, living on Spectacle Island were forced to live underground to escape the construction and turmoil during the island's restoration. Specs, annoyed having to live life underground, leaves the island in search of a better life.


He swims to some of the other harbor islands only to find he is rejected. The inhabitants call him the "Spectacle Creature" from the contaminated island and chase him away. He travels to Boston and struggles to adjust to life in the big city. Making friends with the mud rats in the subway, he learns about the Big Dig and the dirt getting shipped to some island in the harbor. Recognizing it must be Spectacle Island, he goes back home. Except the island no longer resembles the place he left. He cannot find his family or any other chipmunkels. Instead, he finds lots of other strange animals now living on the island.

Spectacle Island has an intriguing history. Generating a curiosity about the Big Dig and Spectacle Island, Specs of Spectacle Island: A story of an island from trash to treasure provides a background of the enormous, complex project underpinning the island's transformation and Boston Harbor's cleanup. The book includes information about Spectacle Island, the Big Dig, the Zakim Bridge, and The Greenway.

"Take your children exploring across Boston Harbor in this fabulous children's book about a treasure-filled island that was reimagined by the planners and builders of Boston's Big Dig. The book is clever, historical fiction about the restoration of Spectacle Island and an opportunity for children and adults to think about urban planning and its impact on our cities."
        - Dan McNichol, award winning journalist and author of The Big Dig
"We recommend this book because it is fantasy mixed with nonfiction and liked how it mentions the animals' struggles with the Big Dig from their point of view. It grabs the attention of everyone of all ages. Educational, adventurous, terrific!"
   -  Trystan & Lilianna Doucette,   young readers
​Spectacle Island is accessible by public ferry, private boats, or charter boat. The visitor’s center has a café and museum. Hiking trails offer views of neighboring Boston Harbor Islands and Boston’s skyline. If you go to Spectacle Island and you hike one of the many trails, be sure to look for chipmunkels.
book received_edited.jpg
Available in paperback
Get an autographed copy and free shipping with PayPal
Can be found at: 
Porter Square Books in Cambridge
Jabberwocky Books in Newburyport

Have questions? Get in touch...

  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
donna.m.keefe  |  |  617.930.4740
© 2024
bottom of page