About Me

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Victoria, Australia
I am an author of Young Adult Fiction books. I worked as a teacher in the Pacific Islands for seven years. Whilst in the Solomon Islands I taught PSSC English before the ethnic tension in 2000 forced a change of plans. I love Pacific literature, art and music. You can find me on Facebook at Beth Montgomery Author.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Island by John Heffernan and Peter Sheehan

Islands are great literary devices because they can show a culture as a singular unit, untouched by outside influences. John Heffernan's picture book The Island portrays a tribe of people who are always miserable because they work so hard and fail to notice the beauty all around them. Only one member of the tribe, a blind boy, experiences beauty in the things around him: the sounds, the smells and tactile experiences he has.
The Island (Scholastic, 2005)
One day the boy encounters a sea creature and plays with it. His laughter attracts the rest of the tribe who also eventually join in with the frivolity in the sea. But their happiness is short lived and they want to keep the sea creature so they can always be happy. They capture the sea creature and keep it on the island where it begins to sicken.

The blurb on the back of the book asks, "How do we find happiness? And once we find it, how can we hold on to it?"
Posing these basic philosophical questions, the illustrator Peter Sheehan has created a fabulous sea creature which is rubbery, colourful, comical and sweet. The blind boy has a whimsical, soft look in contrast to the rest of the tribe who are rigid and monochomed.

This picture book leaves a lasting impression and generates a lot of discussion with kids about perceptions, values and the pusuit of happiness.

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