Who is Dark Star? Louise sights the lone young man as she and her father prepare to cross to Lindisfarne. He’s evidently a stranger, a ‘refugee’, tattooed and possibly dangerous? However deep in her heart, Louise trusts him.

Then again, she and her father are travelling to the Island that they and her mother loved and holidayed upon. Now, her mother has gone, however, and the pair are striving to recall her and their unit, and the happy memories of holidays past. It means that when Louise’s father breaks off to spend time with an American tourist, Louise is alone. She writes, draws, remembers and seeks out Dark Star, the stranger she saw. What is his story? Is he dangerous, like so many people, including the three loud lads, would have her believe?

Island is a stirring, spare and beautiful novella, a love letter to families, open arms and hearts and the North East. David Almond is able to summon feelings, hopes and fears so economically and movingly. Meanwhile, David Litchfield’s illustrations are soaring, moving and beautiful. What a magnificent book!

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David Almond, illustrated by David Litchfield


Louise and her father are returning to Lindisfarne, the place of special memories and traditions. However, things have changed. It’s not only that Louise is older now, but more that she’s visiting alone with her father for her mother has died. While they try to resurrect the places and memories, Louise’s father’s rapid meeting with an American tourist seems to separate them. Then again, there’s Dark Star, the boy/ young man, whom the pair encounter at the island’s crossing.
There’s something about this young man that tugs at Louise’s feelings and memories. It’s as though they were meant to meet each other. However, what does an evidently foreign rough traveller, a ‘refugee’, have to do with her? It’s evident from the reactions of the three loud lads, also visiting, that Dark Star’s not wanted. Then again, Louise’s father isn’t encouraging about ‘his sort’. So what is he doing here? Then again, can he be trusted?
Through Louise’s writing and sketches, realised brilliantly by David Litchfield, we’re deep within this journey to the Island. Bookwagon is reminded of David Almond’s Bone Music and then reunited with this master writer’s evocation of the glorious North-East. We recommend Island highly to emotionally aware older readers.


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