Thursday, 2 June 2016

GREY ISLAND, RED BOAT by Ian Beck. Reviewed by Saviour Pirotta

Title: Grey Island, Red Boat
Author and Illustrator: Ian Beck
Publisher: Barrington Stoke
Pub date: February 2016
Format: pb

Princess Opal lives on the island of Ashes, a grey place where it's always November and it never stops raining.  Her father, the king, is forever taking off in his grey ballon to remonstrate with the rain clouds and the closest the princess ever comes to excitement is watching the fishermen unload their catch. It makes for a dreary life until one day a fishermen rescues a young man in a drifting boat. A boat with a red hull!

The young man is a sort of Midas figure, except that everything he touches turns
from grey to colourful. His magic touch injects a joie de vivre into the princess' life and soon the whole island is infected with his joy.  Not everyone is happy with this turn of events, though. Especially not the king who considers the young man a threat to the island's way of life! So he has him locked up in the dungeons, much to the chagrin of Princess Opal...

This is an original story but it reads like an elegant European fairytale. The beautifully written text, laden with references to precious stones, flows from one page to another, complimenting the gorgeous, retro illustrations. These start off black and white at the start of the bock and gradually get imbued with more and more colour as the story reaches a multicoloured finale. A little gem of a book, both for its story and its fabulous production.


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