Book Title: To The Island (available here)
Author: Patricia Forde
Illustrator: Nicola Bernardelli
Publisher: Little Island Books
Publication Date: Sept 2020
Reviewed By: Jacqueline Harris
Fia longs to go to the mysterious island Hy Brasil, the one that only appears every seven years. And then one magical night, she does. The island is thick with magic and amazing creatures. Fia flies and dances and magic happens all around her. The island is every bit as wonderful as she has imagined it will be.
It is quite unusual to find a full fantasy adventure as a picture book. This is not a story that talks down to children in any way. The language used is rich and evocative and the atmosphere beautifully captured by the prose. Patricia Forde is an award-winning Irish novelist and she has picked a real legend to write about with this book. Contrary to expectation Hy Brasil is an Irish story, with the island said to appear every seven years off the coast of Galway. It even appeared on old maps, but is not there now, except in magical stories.
And this is a most magical of tales – Fia’s longing is realised and it is not a disappointment, in fact her joy is clear to see. “She danced up to the clear night sky where wishes are pinned to stars and stardust tickled her nose and painted her lips silver.”
Nicola Bernadelli’s illustrations are beautiful. They are rich with colour and detail and the magic is painted like tendrils across the pages. Even the seagulls look as if they are smiling and when Fia returns home she brings the magic with her and it spills across the page like a riotous garden of flowers.
There is so much scope for working with a book like this- apart from the obvious magical island theme. The thing that stands out is the language used -described in the blurb as lyrical, which it most certainly is. After first reading this book, my thought was, did she ever go back and how could she bear to leave such a beautiful place? It lingers with the reader too….
Many thanks to the publisher for sending us a review copy of this book and to Review Panel member Jacqueline for reviewing it.
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