Words| Belinda Murrell
I have always loved the idea of living on an island. There is something romantic and adventurous about being cut off from the rest of the world on an island that can only be reached by boat. My love of islands was definitely inspired by some of my favourite childhood books such as the Famous Five and Treasure Island. During my travels with my family, I have visited many, many gorgeous islands all over the world, some of which have inspired my own writing.
Kirrin Island – Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton
As a child, I absolutely loved The Famous Five by Enid Blyton with its humour, adventure, friendship and delightful absence of interfering adults. In this first book in the series, siblings Julian, Dick and Anne are sent to stay with their cousin George Kirrin, and her parents at Kirrin Cottage, by the sea. George is a head-strong tomboy, with a beloved dog called Timmy. Much of the action is set on a deserted island owned by George’s family, with its ruined castle, an old shipwreck, a forgotten map, secret tunnels and a stash of lost gold. Owning my very own island, like George, was my childhood dream.
The Lone Islands in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
Another absolute childhood favourite was the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. I was enraptured by the idea that it might be possible to fall through a secret portal into a magical world, full of talking animals and adventure. In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Lucy and Edmund, the two younger Pevensie siblings, are sent to stay with their horrible cousin Eustace Scrubb. The three children are magically hurtled through an old painting into the world of Narnia. Rescued by King Caspian and fearless Reepicheep (a sword-fighting, talking mouse), they join the royal quest aboard the Dawn Treader exploring the mysterious Lone Islands, searching for the seven Lost Lords of Narnia.
Prince Edward Island – Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Through the joyous eyes of 11-year-old Anne Shirley, Prince Edward Island is a truly beautiful and magical place. Anne is such a delightful character with her vivid imagination, romantic fancies and warm friendships. A red-haired orphan, Anne is mistakenly sent to live with siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert on their farm, instead of the boy that they had requested. At first Marilla insists on sending poor Anne back to the orphanage, but the siblings soon grow to love Anne’s whimsical ways and keep her. Anne of Green Gables gives a glimpse into a forgotten world of long ago.
The islands of Venice – The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
The Thief Lord is set in the enchanted city of Venice, with its palazzos, bridges, canals, alleyways and dragons. It is the story of two orphan runaway boys, Prospero and Bo, who find friendship and protection with a gang of street urchins, living in an abandoned cinema. The children are supported by Scipio, the Thief Lord, a mysterious and charming teenage boy who purports to be an elusive master thief. The young urchins are given a dangerous commission to steal a lion’s wing from a magical merry-go-round. A wonderful adventure set in Venice and its surrounding islands.
Araluen in the Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan
This addictive fantasy series is set on the island of Araluen, which is similar to a medieval England. Will grows up as an orphan and a ward of Castle Redmont, along with Horace, Alyss, George and Jenny. At the age of 15, the orphans have the chance to be apprenticed to a master. Will dreams of being a knight, but being short for his age, he is overlooked. His luck turns when he is chosen to become an apprentice for the ranger Halt, to learn archery, knife-throwing, camouflage, tracking and spycraft. This is the beginning of many thrilling adventures for the young ranger and his friends.
Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr
Life on a remote, tropical island gets complicated when Nim’s marine biologist father, Jack goes missing in a hurricane. Nim is left all alone, with just her menagerie of animals for company – an iguana called Fred, a sea lion called Selkie and a turtle called Chica. When her father doesn’t return, Nim panics and calls for help from her hero, adventurer Alex Rover. But agoraphobic author, Alexandra Rover is not quite what Nim was hoping for. Nim must discover her own courage to save her idyllic island home.
Belinda Murrell has worked as a travel journalist, technical writer, editor and public relations consultant. Her overseas adventures inspired her work as a travel writer for the West Australian newspaper and Out & About With Kids travel magazine. Her work has also appeared in the Sun Herald, Sunday Telegraph and Sydney Morning Herald. While Belinda studied Children’s Literature at Macquarie University, her passion for children’s books was reignited when she had her own three children and began telling and writing stories for Nick, Emily and Lachlan.
Belinda’s books include the Sun Sword fantasy trilogy, Scottish timeslip tale The Locket Of Dreams, French Revolution timeslip tale The Ruby Talisman, Australian timeslip tales The Ivory Rose and The Sequin Star, and Australian historical tales The Forgotten Pearl, The River Charm and The Lost Sapphire. Belinda’s Lulu Bell series for younger readers, about friends, family, animals, and growing up in a vet hospital has sold over 200,000 copies. Pippa’s Island is Belinda’s latest series. Belinda is also an author ambassador for Room to Read and Books in Homes.