5 best children's books set on islands, chosen by Cat Doyle

Published on: 15 August 2018 Author: Cat Doyle

The Storm-Keeper's Island is a fantastic new adventure set on the island of Arranmore, full of magic, secrets and mysteries.

An image of Cat Doyle and The Storm-Keeper's Island

There's something very special about tales set on islands, so we asked The Storm-Keeper's Island author Cat Doyle to tell us about her favourite books for 9-12s featuring islands, seafaring adventures and all manner of derring-do.

Read our review of The Storm-Keeper's Island

1. The Famous Five: Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton

An illustration by Laura Ellen Anderson from the cover of Five on a Treasure Island

Enid Blyton wrote some of my favourite childhood reads, and Five on a Treasure Island is no exception.

This sweeping summer adventure story follows siblings Julian, Dick and Anne, their cousin Georgina and her beloved dog Timmy as they explore Kirrin Island, embarking on a quest that features an old shipwreck, an ancient castle, a fierce storm and perhaps most importantly, long lost treasure!

It's a classic children's story that kept me turning pages well into the night and chattering about it to my brothers the next day, and week... and month!

Read our review of Five on a Treasure Island

2. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis

An image from the cover of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

I absolutely loved C.S. Lewis growing up. I devoured every single instalment in the Chronicles of Narnia in lightning speed, reading them over and over again until the pages yellowed.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was my favourite of the series, drawn as I am to seafaring adventures. In this book, Lucy and Edmund (and their irritating cousin, Eustace) tumble into a painting of a ship at sea where they come face to face with Caspian, the King of Narnia. Once on board, they begin their search for the seven lost lords of Narnia, in a voyage that will lead them to the edge of the world.

Not island-based but islands-bound, this adventure sees the children visit many different magical islands, including the Island Where Dreams Come True, which is not quite as benign as it first seems. As a child (and a teenager), I was absolutely enthralled.

3. The Lost Island by Eilis Dillon

An image from the cover of The Lost Island

Set in the West of Ireland, just off the coast of Galway Bay, where I grew up, The Lost Island holds a very special place in my heart.

Young Michael Farrell receives a message regarding the whereabouts of his father, who has been found alive on the lost island of Inishmananan, four years after setting sail for it. What follows is an exciting adventure that sees Michael and his friend Joe conquering the Atlantic coast (and all the perils it presents) to find Michael's father and the long-lost treasure of Inishmananan.

Set against a backdrop of Irish mythology, this seafaring, suspenseful story still makes my heart sing.

4. Kensuke's Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo

An image from the cover of Kensuke's Kingdom

This is a classic desert island tale about an 11-year-old boy, Michael, who washes up on an island in the Pacific Ocean along with his dog after falling overboard on his parent's yacht.

Stranded all by himself, Michael must learn to survive the perils of the island, including a nasty jellyfish encounter, but soon comes to realise - through the mysterious appearance of food and water - that someone nearby is watching over him. When he meets the mysterious Kensuke, an older Japanese man with a difficult past, the story broadens considerably, blossoming into one of unlikely friendship and humanity at its purest.

This island story is a wholly absorbing read, beautiful in its simplicity.

Read our review of Kensuke's Kingdom

5. The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

The cover of The Girl of Ink and Stars

The first of her two completely different but equally mesmerizing island-based stories, Kiran Millwood Hargrave's The Girl of Ink and Stars wrapped itself around my heart and made me weep shamelessly like a child.

The story follows Isabella Riosse, who longs to break free of the harsh regime imposed upon the residents of Joya by the dreadful Governor, and explore the faraway lands her father, a cartographer, once mapped. When her friend disappears into the forbidden heart of the island, Isabella must journey to find her, using the stars, her map and her own heart to help her eventually save the island itself.

This is a beautiful tale full of hope and heartbreak, magic and adventure, and is certainly one of the best modern island stories around today.

Read our review of The Girl of Ink and Stars

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Topics: Features

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