TO LIVE ON AN ISLAND by Emma Bland Smith


by ; illustrated by
Age Range: 6 - 12
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A wide-format book in a style and subject matter reminiscent of Robert McCloskey’s old favorite Time of Wonder, this picture book describes life on an island in the San Juans, off the Washington coast.

An unnamed child of about 12 is seen waking up to the horn of the ferry, hiking through woods to get to the school bus stop, taking a field trip to the beach, collecting driftwood, catching crabs, kayaking, paddleboarding with friends, and generally enjoying the healthy outdoor pursuits of island life. Communication between an island and the mainland can take a while, and the mail truck and the local floatplanes are very important. Island residents get to experience all kinds of wildlife, from otters to orcas, and must rely on their own resources during storms and power outages. As the book states, “When you live on an island, things are different. Sometimes harder. Sometimes sweeter. Sometimes quieter. / Always magical.” Person’s soft watercolors convey this magic through a mix of close-ups and leisurely landscapes, with postcardlike insets of buildings and activities. The second-person narrative on each spread describes the child’s daily experiences, and supplemental panels give more detailed information about the natural world and animals special to the island, such as bald eagles and orcas. Both the protagonist and most of the secondary figures depicted seem white.

A heartfelt snapshot of a way of life. (Picture book. 6-12)

Pub Date: May 14th, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-63217-181-8
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Little Bigfoot/Sasquatch
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2019


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