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Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards 2020
Everything is new to Isla and her parents when they make a new start on the Orkney islands. The grief of the death of her brother follows Isla, but the coming together of her own story with Celtic tales helps to create a new beginning. This is a compassionate book much enhanced by sensitive illustration. Deceptively simple-seeming, it has something to say at many levels.
Ten-year-old Isla has moved from Edinburgh to the Orkney Islands with her parents, to start a new life after the death of Isla's beloved young brother. Isla's mother's family is from Orkney and her father's is from Africa, and she finds island life is very different to her former city home. Her discovery of the old Orcadian legend about the selkies, half human, half seal people, becomes the key to adjustment and acceptance. Many strands are woven into this deceptively simple story - loss and discovery, legend and reality, the pleasures and problems of settling into a new place, the need to make new friends, the coming to terms with sadness. Jane Ray's illustrations capture the beauty of the island landscape and integrate it perfectly with the atmosphere and rich texture of the storytelling. Endorsed by Amnesty International for illuminating the human rights values of family, friends, home, safety and refuge.
A warmly compassionate, exquisitely beautiful story of love and loss, old tales and new beginnings. -- Kate Agnew
A magical tale that will bring comfort to its young readers. -- Sarah Crossan
Sensitive, sad and ultimately uplifting, this short tale of a family dealing with the loss of a child is deeply affecting. Brahmachari always writes with tenderness and awareness about how global and personal difficulties affect children, and Jane Ray's soft wash illustrations hold the space beautifully for this quiet story of transformation and healing. - Booktrust - Books we Love
Many strands are woven into this deceptively simple story - loss and discovery, legend and reality, the pleasures and problems of settling into a new place, the need to make new friends, the coming to terms with sadness...this is a heartfelt and often emotional read. - Read it, Daddy!
A moving and beautifully written story about grief and coping with change. The illustrations perfectly complement the text, evoking both the island setting and the dreamlike sequences beautifully. - Books for Keeps 5 star review
A complex and thoughtful story, handling many issues in a relatively brief text. The author has interwoven the strands skilfully and compassionately, bringing us a book that appeals for many different reasons. Ultimately, it is about learning to handle grief, with help from others. Jane Ray's sensitive and beautiful illustrations capture the emotion of the story and show readers the beauty of the Orkney Islands, through rich colour and emotive portrayals. - Parents in Touch
This is a treasure of a book that deserves a wide audience and at the right time, could help grieving families come to terms with their own loss. - Red Reading Hub
From the stunning cover, to the profoundly telling endpapers, and then slowly through the careful use of picture, symbol and space, this is an especially crafted, especially beautiful dance of word and image. I am not going to go into specific detail. The book needs to be experienced as an unfolding whole. We also have the rich thematic elements. Amnesty International have endorsed the book for illuminating the human rights values of family, friends home, safety and refuge. That is a very fair and accurate summary of much of the books deeper content. To this I would add the power of storytelling and myth, and how this intertwines with our sense of home and the space around us. Not to mention the role of dreams in sorting out the impossible-to-sort-out.... -- Martin Galway (Teaching and Learning Adviser for Herts for Learning) - Just Imagine
Enchanting and mysterious...There are many strands to the story - coping with death, letting go of a loved one, local legends, poetry, starting a new school, making friends, being a dual-heritage family, and rediscovering a lost community. All the elements are brought together by the gorgeous illustrations, and you find yourself immersed in the poetry of the selkie legends, which help Isla accept the loss of her brother and settle into a new friendship. - Juno
A beautiful collaboration between an author and illustrator, who have both been involved in their local centre for refugees and migrants, which brings together themes of loss and new beginnings, friendship and cultural heritage. -- Ann Lazim - CLPE Books of the Year
Touching and sensitive...There is a real magical quality to this book stemming from the synergy between Brahmachari and Ray. - Books for Keeps
An excellent book for adult refugees learning English to read, in spite of having been written for children. It has a number of themes which touch a chord with them, for example, being an outsider, loss, diverse ethnicity, a family healing through story telling. The beautiful illustrations describe the seascape so vividly and incorporate a range of emotions in the family members dealing with grief in a new environment. Everyone enjoyed the close link between the writing and the illustrations. The book provoked lively discussions each week when we read it together. It also proved to be a good source of new vocabulary and phrases. - Islington Refugee Centre
A touching and sensitive exploration of the challenges of a family coming to terms with the upheaval caused by the loss of the youngest child told through the perspective of the sibling. The words and illustrations weave seamlessly and beautifully together to bring the world of this family to life connecting the reader to the pain of their present and the hopes for their future. There is a real magical quality to this book stemming from the synergy between Brahmachari and Ray. -- Farrah Serroukh - CLPE - 10 of the Best starring children from BAME backgrounds
A tale lyrically told, dressed in sublime illustrations that brilliantly depict the fragility and beauty of life, lost in landscape where myth and sea converge. - Kirkus Reviews Starred Review
|Publication date:||1st September 2018|
|Publisher:||Otter-Barry Books Ltd|
|Suitable for:||9+ readers|
Sita Brahmachari won the Waterstones Children's Book Prize with her debut Artichoke Hearts and is one of the most interesting and important voices in children's books today. Her latest novel, Tender Earth was awarded an honour by the International Board of Books for Young People. She was the 2015 Booktrust's Writer in Residence and is the current Writer in Residence at Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants. Sita is also an Amnesty International ambassador. She lives in London with her family. Photo credit Martin LevensonMore About Sita Brahmachari