Islands have featured in fiction and in particular in children’s fiction for many years. From Kirrin Island in Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series to Stephenson’s Treasure Island, the islands in Kensuke’s Kingdom and Robinson Crusoe and also in picture books, like Struay in the Katie Morag series. Islands are often synonymous with adventure and sometimes with secrets too. The island in Charlotte Lo’s debut novel for children fits in perfectly with this theme. However there is a difference. In this story Luna and her family win an island in a competition. The island will be their new home.
When the family hear the news of their win Luna is absolutely delighted as she thinks she will finally be able to achieve her dream of acquiring a donkey of her own. Luna’s older sister, Margot is less thrilled. In fact initially she refuses to move. Fabien, the girls’ goat obsessed younger brother, is already planning how he will keep goats in their new home. Mum ponders the possibility of starting a yoga retreat on the island whilst Dad, still grief stricken after the death of the children’s much loved granny, is unable to raise enthusiasm for anything at the moment. However the move goes ahead and the family discover that their island is beautiful despite needing much work done on the house and its surroundings. Then their plans hit a few snags and things get rather tricky for the children with much hilarity and excitement along the way.
This is great fun and guaranteed to put smiles on faces. There is a very positive feel about the story which is engaging from the first pages onwards. The three very different children are fond of each other and the sibling relationships are realistic. The dramatic change to the family’s lifestyle is a good discussion trigger for children and some of the locals reactions to the new arrivals are interesting too. As the story progresses we watch Luna’s growing friendship with Kai, a boy from the mainland and the three children’s attempts to organise a festival both of which storylines encounter a few hiccups. Fabien is a delightful character and the cause of many of the books amusing moments. The reader is made aware of the grief suffered by families when a loved one dies but this is not dwelt on and in fact is dealt with in such a matter of fact way that younger readers will gain reassurance.
We Won an Island is a happy, enjoyable read which readers aged about 8 plus will enjoy, especially if they are animal lovers. It would work well read aloud too, the short chapters would be perfect for ten minute sessions in the classroom.
Thank you to Nosy Crow Books for providing me with my proof copy. The book has an attractive cover and chapter headings by Aviel Basi.