Review of Sally Nicholls “An Island of Our Own”, reviewed by Pippa Wilson

Sally Nicholls 

Sally’s website: http://www.sallynicholls.com/

Winner of the IBW children’s fiction award 2015

Shortlisted for the 2015 Guardian Children’s Book prize and Costa Children’s Book award.

Published by Scholastic. £6.99

Good Reads Synopsis:

Siblings Jonathan, Holly and Davy have been struggling to survive since the death of their mother, and are determined to avoid being taken into care. When the family’s wealthy but eccentric Great-Aunt Irene has a stroke, they go to visit her. Unable to speak or write, she gives Holly some photographs that might lead them to an inheritance that could solve all their problems. But they’re not the only ones after the treasure…

So what did I think?

An Island Of Our Own is a fast-paced adventure story that revolves around the mystery of  late Auntie Irene’s strange photo album. Twelve year old Holly shows stoic determination in tracking down her inheritance; and in her quest we get to know her older brother and guardian, Jonathan, and her younger brother, Davy. The more desperately the family of orphans need assistance, the more offers of kindness unexpectedly help them on their way.

Told in the first person, we quickly pick up on Holly’s irrepressible energy and feisty spirit. Although she is growing up in difficult circumstances, Holly is proud and determined and doesn’t take no for an answer.

What I particularly like about this book is that it is filled to the brim with contemporary references and experiences that young people take for granted: facebook, and crowdsourcing and Metadata. Yet, at the same time, An Island Of Our Own captures the essence of a good old Enid Blyton adventure. It is a remarkable balance of the old fashioned kids-having-the freedom-to-roam-the-countryside type adventure, and a contemporary surviving-hard-times story.The entire way through I was compelled to keep reading as I had a strong conviction that Holly would come out of things triumphant. It’s a very satisfying and rewarding read for impatient readers!

You’ll find sad moments, happy moments, silly and deadly serious moments, and nothing boring to get in the way. One of my favourite aspects of the book is the blossoming romance between Holly’s older brother Jonathan and the cheery Kate. It really warms the cockles of your heart. I’ve become fascinated by the idea of Maker Spaces, which seem to be the best idea ever, and I feel like I urgently need to visit Orkney’s Oldest Known Farmstead, Knap of Howar. It sounds the perfect place to capture the essence of adventure.

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book that filled me with as much excitement as a reader, and for that I thank Sally Nicholls, and will now be finding all her other books to read too!

Pippa Wilson

30th December 2015

 

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