Whilst away on holiday we read not only books set in Orkney but also books with more tangential links to this heart-entrapping archipeligo of islands.
Mermaids, mysterious islands which are not all that they seem, outrageous dressing up, a real meanie with a very silly name, this books is full of giggles and made an excellent family read aloud (though 7-10 year olds could enjoy this a lot on their own too). A fantastical adventure, full of flamboyant characters (it comes as no surprise to read in an interview that “Seawigs came about because we [Reeve/McIntyre] both love dressing up“), Reeve’s story had us looking at the islands around us, imagining what lay beneath the water, and dreaming, even hoping they might up sticks (or should that be “up rocks”) and move in the night. As it was, we DID see mermaids…
And the kids made me my very own seawig
Yes, Oliver and the Seawigs? Perfectly brilliant, bonkers seaside reading.
Oliver and the Seawigs is only just now hitting bookshelves around the country, but another of our Orkney reads was first published nearly 70 years ago: The Wind on the Moon by Eric Linklater, winner of the Carnegie Award in 1944.
A story which revolves around two young girls who drink a witch’s draught so that they can turn themselves into kangeroos and thereby rescue (with the help of a puma and a falcon) their father who has been held captive by a tyrant in castle in Bombardy may not appear to be an obvious book to read on a northern windswept island, but Linklater was born to Orcadian parents (in Wales) and later spent a good stretch of his in Orkney. He’s buried there, and commemorated in St Magnus’ Cathedral.
Like Oliver and the Seawigs, The Wind on the Moon is full of high jinks, outrageous turns, wit and joy. Talking Animals, magic, a quest, and children saving the day, both these fantastic(al) Orkney reads of ours come highly recommended for any family who wants to meet characters who will light up everyone’s imagination.
Disclosure: I received a free review copy of Oliver and the Seawigs before leaving on holiday. I had no idea then how perfect it would be as we sat by the seaside reading! The only downside of receiving this ARC (Advance Reader Copy) is that it did not include completed artwork by Sarah McIntyre. I felt this was a real shame. Publishers wouldn’t send out incomplete/draft text in an ARC, but for some reason it was ok to do that will the illustrator’s work. Hmm.