Booklist: Children's books set on the islands of Scotland

Books set on the Scottish Islands
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Barbara Henderson is the author of The Chessmen Thief, an atmospheric Viking adventure set on the Isle of Lewis, and of Wilderness Wars, a modern eco-thriller set on a fictional Island off the Isle of Harris.  Her energetic school visits have taken her across Scotland and beyond and as a drama teacher, she loves to get young people on their feet!

Here Barbara chooses 5 favourite children's books set on Scottish islands...

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Where the World Ends
Geraldine McCaughrean

The Carnegie medal winning novel is set in 1727 on St Kilda – and on a rock stac in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean where a group of boys and their leader find themselves abandoned to the elements. It is a gripping survival story which reeled me in from the first sentence: ‘His mother gave him a new pair of socks, a puffin to eat on the voyage and a kiss on the cheek.’

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The Weather Weaver
Tamsin Mori

This book is a new kid on the block and is set in Shetland. 11-yr-old Stella arrives on Shetland for the summer holidays, excited about spending time with her Grandpa. But nothing works out as she expected and she runs away, discovering a new friend - and weather-weaving powers within herself that she had no idea existed! Throw in a puppy-like pet cloud called Nimbus, and I’m in!

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The Rise of Wolves 
Kerr Thomson

‘A bloodcurdling howl that stops him dead in his tracks. And then he sees it. Silhouetted against the sky, head raised: unmistakeably, a wolf.’ Innis is puzzled: wolves became extinct in Scotland centuries ago, didn’t they? Set on a tiny fictional island off the Isle of Skye, the book walks the ridge between ancient traditions and contemporary technology. A gripping plot with a likeable hero and plenty of mystery.

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Katie Morag Delivers the Mail
Mairi Hedderwick

This is the first of the Katie Morag Stories which went on to become a successful series (and TV programme too). It’s easy to fall in love with Hedderwick’s beautiful illustrations, and the characters feel like old friends. Struay may be a fictional island, but the books are inspired by the author’s own years of living on the isle of Colonsay. Perfect island escapism in words and pictures! All the stories are great, but I have a huge soft spot for Katie Morag and Tiresome Ted.

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The Mixed-Up Summer of Lily McLean
Lindsay Littleson

This book was the winner of the prestigious Kelpies Prize for new Scottish writing and, set on the Isle of Cumbrae in southern Scotland, it deserves much wider attention. Lily’s family is less than perfect, but when she hears a ghostly voice warning her not to go to the island, things get messier. A beautifully written and funny adventure, but with depth and heart.

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The Chessmen Thief
Barbara Henderson & Sandra McGowan

Barbara's own book, The Chessmen Thief, is a Scottish historical adventure set in the time of the Vikings.


Based on the story of the real-life Lewis Chessmen (a group of distinctive 12th-century chess pieces discovered in 1831 on the Isle of Lewis) Barbara’s Henderson’s new book for middle-grade readers is a gripping adventure set against the backdrop of Norse mythology. The enthralling action is perfectly accompanied by Sandra McGowan's illustrations.

Read our full review over on our blog.

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