Ember and the Island of Lost Creatures
A & U Children’s, 2023
288pp., graphic novel, RRP $A19.99
Fitting in can be hard, especially when you’re as small as Ember. He can’t remember anything from before he lived in an attic in a city where everything was giant-sized. He longed for friendship, but when he ventured out to try to make a connection, he was accidentally swept into a storm drain and out to a beach. He hopes his his luck will change when Lua, a kindly sea turtle, escorts him across the ocean to a school for little creatures on a wondrous island, and he meets creatures like Ana, a salamander, and Viggo, a stroppy blue-tongued lizard. Ember learns that first days can also be hard – especially when your friends read your journal and mock you. Lessons at school involve intriguing discussions of camouflage and mimicry and introductions to the unique denizens of the island and surrounding sea but it his adventures involving fantastical cave-dwellers, ferocious storms and classmates that aren’t interested in making friends that teach him the most.
As he struggles to adapt to his school, Ember finds himself at the heart of an otherworldly mystery, facing a strange monster from the deep. And though Ember’s classmates may seem of little help, any good student knows appearances can be deceiving – and friendship can come from the most unexpected of places.
For those independent readers who like the graphic novel format, this is an intriguing story with clear, detailed pictures that in a lot of cases carry the story without speech, that reinforces the message of being and accepting yourself, building friendships with unlikely folk, persevering to get to know them better, and being open to new ideas and perspectives.