Eugene's Island: The Birthday Solution by Elizabeth Kirby-McLeod
Eugene’s Island is the new series from Elizabeth Kirkby-McLeod and illustrated by Anna McKessar about a boy, Eugene, and his adventures on a wildlife sanctuary island where his dad is tasked with running. The first book in the series, The Birthday Solution, finds Eugene and his family packing up and moving to the island. However, for poor Eugene, the moving day falls on the same day as his birthday.
But moving to an island is not without its challenges - as Eugene finds out. His dad, a keen conservationist, has the ambition of making the world a better, greener and cleaner place and that means the move to the island. Sadly, it’s not the island of his dreams though as instead of sand it is quite rocky, and when he falls it isn’t the soft landing of forgiving sand, it is rough and sharp. Eugene and his little brother must make the most of what they have and learn to have some ingenuity with what’s around them.
A story of overcoming adversity and making creative choices on an island where the basic luxuries of life are not available - not even knives and forks! Kirkby-McLeod really gets the voice of Eugene spot on and creates a really authentic world of a small island sanctuary. Complete with their own boat!
The book helps teach important life lessons like not always getting what we want in life, as well as resilience and patience. As the opening to this series, the premise is really exciting and engaging for young readers. It also provides a wealth of opportunity to share experiences, learnings and conservation techniques at a time when we need it most.
From a practical perspective, the book is really accessible for young readers who will follow the story easily and with great interest. That has certainly been the case in this household. A wonderful exploration into the world of conservation and resilience.
Reviewer: Chris Reed