Maria’s Island by Victoria Hislop, reviewed by Niamh

Maria’s Island is the first children’s book by Victoria Hislop, and is based on her best-selling novel The Island for adults. The main character is called Maria, who tells her granddaughter the untold story of her childhood growing-up on the Greek island of Plaka. Her home is near the island of Spinalonga, where people with a disease called leprosy have to live for the rest of their lives. 

The illustrations by Gill Smith are beautiful and help to bring the story to life, with bright, vibrant colours.

I think that the book is an important story to be told because leprosy is still a real thing and impacts on people in developing countries without the healthcare that they need, even though there is now a cure. 

Maria’s Island provides an important lesson about never giving up hope and I found it really interesting how badly people treated someone with leprosy, even somebody in their own family! The book is fiction, but the island of Spinalonga was where people with leprosy in real life had to move away to and leave their family and friends behind.

There were some upsetting bits in the book, and I would recommend reading it first with a grown-up who can explain some parts. I enjoyed this book and would like to ready more children’s books by Victoria Hislop if she writes anymore.

Perfect for fans of: When Fishes Flew by Michael Morpurgo, andAfter the War: From Auschwitz to Ambleside by Tom Palmer.

Hello! My name is Niamh and I’m aged 9. I’m an avid reader and some of my favourite authors and illustrators are Laura Ellen Anderson, Steven Butler, Steven Lenton, Sophy Henn and Sophie Anderson. I want to be an author and illustrator when I’m older and I love to write and draw in my spare time. I like to recommend books to my friends at school and believe you can never have too many books, even though I’m running out of space on my bookshelves! 

About the book:

A dramatic and moving story set in the same world as the international bestseller The Island from the celebrated novelist Victoria Hislop.  
The absorbing story of the Cretan village of Plaka and the tiny, deserted island of Spinalonga – Greece’s former leper colony – is told to us by Maria Petrakis, one of the children in the original version of The Island . She tells us of the ancient and misunderstood disease of leprosy, exploring the themes of stigma, shame and the treatment of those who are different, which are as relevant for children as adults. Gill Smith’s rich, full-colour illustrations will transport the reader to the timeless and beautiful Greek landscape and Mediterranean seascape.