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THE FARAWAY ISLAND by Dianne Hofmeyr


by Dianne Hofmeyr and illustrated by Jude Daly

Age Range: 6 - 8

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-84507-644-3
Publisher: Frances Lincoln

In this sweet (if inconsistent and much-altered) version of a possibly historical incident, a 16th-century Portuguese sailor jumps ship to take up solitary residence on St. Helena—an island described with some justice as “further away from anywhere than anywhere else in the world.” Thanks to gifts of seeds, trees and animals left by passing mariners over the years, the island is slowly transformed in Daly’s stylized, delicately detailed illustrations from a barren rock to a verdant paradise. Summoned by the intrigued Queen of Portugal, the hermit reluctantly journeys to her court, declares himself to be a monster (in old accounts he was physically mutilated, but there’s no mention of that until the author’s afterword) and hurries back—followed by a court seamstress who ignores his growls, gardening silently and contentedly alongside him until at last his unhappy soul is likewise transformed. More about inner growth than survival, this brief Robinsonade is still likely to beguile younger audiences. (Picture book. 6-8)