The world can feel very big and incredibly scary when you are small. But with friends, in all forms, anything is possible.
Living in the land of the giants, teacup-sized Ember has a lonely existence until he stumbles upon friendly sea turtle Lua. Whisked away to the Island of Lost Creatures, a new and better life beckons. Except it doesn’t. Surrounded by strange and unfamiliar sights, mean classmates, stormy weather, holed up in a battered and leaky boat and with a rock for a mate, life is terrible.
When a strange monster from the deep takes a keen interest in Ember, fitting in and making friends are the least of his problems. As the creature wreaks more and more havoc, Ember needs help. And everyone knows that help always comes to those that need it most, often from the most surprising of places…
I haven’t read Jason’s highly-praised debut graphic novel, The Treasure in the Lake, but based on this mesmerising reading experience I will be seeking it out in the not-too-distant future. Ember and the Island of Lost Creatures is a graphic novel set to dazzle with fantastical creatures, a magical world and a compelling, action-packed plot.
Pamment’s vivd imagination, sparkling storytelling and stunning visuals will leave young readers breathless and in awe as they leave this world behind - at least for an hour or two - getting swept away on a heartwarming and wondrous coming-of-age adventure that explores important themes of friendship, belonging, bullying, differences, acceptance, standing up for others and self-discovery. Ember’s journey will easily relate and everyone will be rooting for him to find the relief from the heavy cloud of loneliness that he desperately craves.
The colourful and eclectic cast of characters are a delight. Each unique and with their own backstory, they are the glue that binds the narrative together. Kind-hearted Ember is admirable with his determination to make the best out of any situation but it is the supporting cast that hooked me. I’m a huge fan of Boulder (obviously a rock) whose personality comes alive through brilliant expressions; wise and learned Lua is someone that we all need in our lives; and misunderstood Natia is a feathered friend that is deserving of a hug and is in need of friendship just as much as Ember. Even loud-mouthed, constant-teaser, lizard-breathed Viggo is endearing in his own way.
Along with the otherworldly we are treated to plenty of facts about the natural world. Even on a magical island where the plants are as unusual as the creatures, science remains true to form. Class teacher Mr Cultivar is always one to seize a learning opportunity sharing insight on the mimicry ability of the fascinating pharaoh cuttlefish, describing cave systems and explaining symbiosis. Natia’s heartwarming backstory elucidates the incredible diving ability that pelicans have.
A graphic novel of the highest quality, definitely one to add to bookshelves although I don’t envisage it’ll stay on there for long. Spellbinding!
Recommended for 7+.
With huge thanks to Allen & Unwin for the copy I received in exchange for an honest review.