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Maria's Island

Written by Victoria Hislop

Illustrated by Gill Smith

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Maria's Island Review

Family / Home Stories Featured Books for 7+ readers Featured Books for 9+ readers Historical Fiction

Friendship, family and hope shine through this moving story of stigmatised Cretan lepers

Victoria Hislop was inspired to create this children’s adaptation of her bestselling novel The Island when a Cretan teacher observed that its themes of loss and stigma are as pertinent to children as they are to adults. In addition, during the Covid-19 pandemic, the author noted parallels between the lepers of her book and those infected with Covid-19 - the need to isolate, to be apart from family and friends, with physical contact forbidden.

This version of Hislop’s original novel - beautifully, softly illustrated by Gill Smith - is framed as a story told by a grandmother to her grand-daughter. Rita lives in London, but spends her summers on Crete with her Greek grandma, Maria, who is “kind and gentle, with twinkly brown eyes and silver hair tied up in a bun.” Prompted by an old photo, Maria tells Rita the story of the deserted island of Spinalonga, where lepers were sent to live. She recalls fears over her father taking sick people to the island, people who would never leave, for they were destined to live out their days in isolation. With the disease viewed as a “living death”, and sufferers seen as “unclean”, shame and stigma swell to epic proportions, and it’s not long before these terrifying circumstances become all too real for young Maria.

Later in life, a forward-thinking, compassionate doctor and Maria revolutionise how lepers are treated and viewed, with concrete hope coming in the form of a possible cure, and an all-pervasive theme of treating everyone with dignity and respect - no matter what their circumstances, no matter what they’re suffering from. Packed with drama and powerful messages of compassion and hope, this is a beautifully-realised adaptation.


Maria's Island Synopsis

A dramatic and moving story set in the same world as the international bestseller The Island from the celebrated novelist Victoria Hislop. 

The absorbing story of the Cretan village of Plaka and the tiny, deserted island of Spinalonga - Greece's former leper colony - is told to us by Maria Petrakis, one of the children in the original version of The Island. She tells us of the ancient and misunderstood disease of leprosy, exploring the themes of stigma, shame and the treatment of those who are different, which are as relevant for children as adults.

Gill Smith's rich, full-colour illustrations will transport the reader to the timeless and beautiful Greek landscape and Mediterranean seascape.

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781406399073
Publication date: 03/06/2021
Publisher: Walker Books Ltd
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781406399073
Publication date: 3rd June 2021
Author: Victoria Hislop
Illustrator: Gill Smith
Publisher: Walker Books Ltd
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 128 pages
Suitable for: 7+ readers, 9+ readers
Genres: Family / Home Stories, Historical Fiction
Collections: Summer Reading 2021,

About Victoria Hislop

Victoria Hislop worked in publishing, PR and as a journalist before becoming a novelist. Her adult fiction books include The Island, The Return and, most recently, Those Who Are Loved, all of which have been bestsellers. She divides her time between Kent and Greece, and this is her first book for children.

More About Victoria Hislop

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Cover for One August Night Sequel to much-loved classic, The Island by Victoria Hislop
Cover for One August Night Sequel to much-loved classic, The Island by Victoria Hislop
Cover for One August Night Sequel to much-loved classic, The Island by Victoria Hislop
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