Review Blog

Jan 13 2011

The Secret of the Lonely Isles by Joanne Van Os

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Random House, 2011. ISBN: 978 1741662528.
Recommended for ages 9+. The Isherwood family is experiencing tough times with Dad having been injured at work and Neenie, their Gran, suffering from dementia. Siblings Jem, Tyler and Maddy are affected by the daily conflicts arising within the family when Great-aunt Ella arrives and suggests they accompany her on a sea-faring trip. An invitation is also extended to their friend, Zac, and the not entirely enthusiastic bunch begins their preparations. Only when Ella explains a little of the mystery she hopes to solve, do the children become more excited and involved. As they journey across the seas and more clues are uncovered, they meet various characters along the way and need to consider whose motives can be trusted.
The Northern Territory setting adds its own special dimension to the story as do the different backgrounds of the characters and their varying voices. Showing some similarities to the books of Michael Morpurgo, this could be paired with adventure stories from other countries and used to compare both style and content. With its distinctly Australian writing, and the themes of overcoming one's fears, insecurities and self absorption to assist the family, this engaging adventure/mystery would make an entertaining class read aloud for middle primary children.
Jo Schenkel

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