Book Review of To The Island by Patricia Forde, Illustrated by Nicola Bernardelli

Little Island €15.99

At the back of this book there’s a note for the adult readers who will be reading it to their children, briefly outlining the history of Hy Brasil island and there’s probably the bones of a whole other book right there. But this particular book is for the very young and it’s an absolutely breathtaking publication.

Fia is a Galway girl who knows about the legend of the island of Hy Brasil and of how it only appears once every seven years, rising out of the Atlantic ocean like a mysterious apparition. Fia spends many full moons hoping to see it. And then it happens! She sees it one night and she sneaks out of bed, creeps through the Galway streets and hops on a moonbeam at the Spanish Arch quay. The moonbeam takes Fia straight to the magic island.

Commissioned by Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture and published by Little Island, this book is full-on gorgeous. The artwork by Nicola Bernardelli is outstanding, the depth and colour and light of the illustrations just something to behold. Text by Patricia Forde is pitch perfect and the scenes of Galway city, as well as the magic island, are wondrous. Also published in Irish under the title An tOileán Thiar, it’s one of the most attractive children’s picture books I’ve seen published this year. Exceptional.  

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