Koh Tabu by Ann Kelley

Koh Tabu

Written by Ann Kelley

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The Lovereading4Kids comment

A camping trip on a beautiful tropical island should have been idyllic for the girl cadets. There were no parents, no teachers – just Layla Campbell who wasn’t that old and who treated the girls as equals. Pitching their tents under the stars, the excited girls are full of optimism. Within just a few hours, everything is changed. How the girls survive the terrible storm and its devastating effects and how Bonnie, the sensible, calm and well-prepared narrator, takes on responsibilities watching in disgust as Layla Campbell falls apart gives a vivid insight into the complex dynamics when an adventure goes so terribly wrong.


Koh Tabu by Ann Kelley

Wonderful day, wonderful island - THE WRONG ISLAND, but who cares? For Bonnie MacDonald it didn't matter that they'd blown off course. She and her friends were off on an adventure to a beautiful tropical island and there were no parents or teachers to spoil things. There was Layla Campbell, of course, but she didn't count as a proper grown-up - she was so cool, so beautiful, and treated the girls as equals, not like children. But how can a place go from paradise to hell in just one night? How can life go from being a wonderful adventure to a desperate struggle to survive? Sun... sea... sand... destruction... danger... death...


The author as artist evokes people and places with delicacy, humour and truth a novel of outstanding beauty. Costa Children's Book Award Judges on The Bower Bird

About the Author

Ann Kelley

Ann Kelley is a photographer and prize-winning poet who once nearly played cricket for Cornwall. She has previously published a collection of poems and photographs, a book of photos of St Ives families and an audio book of cat stories.

She lives with her second husband and several cats on the edge of a cliff in Cornwall where they have survived a flood, a landslip, a lightning strike and the roof blowing off. She runs courses for aspiring poets at her home, writing courses for medics and medical students, and speaks about her poetry therapy work with patients at medical conferences.

From the author: "My son, Nathan died in 1985, aged 24, a week after a heart and lung transplant. He had a rare congenital heart defect – pulmonary atresia – the lack of a pulmonary artery.

"A clever lad, a scientist, he knew he had a short time to live but he lived every day to the full in the only way he could – studying, learning and with humour.
He was a self-taught fish pathologist – an ichthyologist. He actually discovered two cancers in fish when he was 16; they are registered in his name in the Smithsonian Institute and he studied Pathobiology at Reading University and then Space Science at UCL, before he became too ill to continue.

"Gussie isn’t my son. She is an amalgamation of several people – my daughter, my grand-daughter, my son and me – and she is mostly herself, an odd, funny bookish child, eccentric and thoughtful – a one off, as Nathan was.

"But she is also the embodiment of many children who bravely find a way to live through health and emotional problems.

"My son knew that even with a successful transplant, in those days he would only have had a few more years. But he was so happy to have been given that chance.

"I think that is why I write about Gussie – to make people see the importance of being an organ donor."

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Book Info


272 pages


Ann Kelley
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Oxford University Press

Publication date

1st April 2010




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