Eugene's Island: The Christmas Visitors by Elizabeth Kirkby-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 series continues with “The Christmas Visitors” where the family are spending their first Christmas together on the remote island.
Celebrating Christmas with Eugene and his family are the cousins from the mainland who struggle to come to terms with life on the island. There isn’t even an indoor toilet for them to use. The cousins aren’t fans of not being able to use any kind of device on the island either.
But there is a new development the night before Christmas. Bioluminescence is in the bay and it is beautiful in the morning air. Not only that, but it has attracted some whales into the area. Now the family must move quickly to create a human barrier to stop the whales getting too close and beaching themselves. It is a race against time and the family shifts into action stations quickly.
Set against the background of conservation, Eugene’s Island is sure to become a family favourite as the values of respect for the environment, resilience in the face of adversity and responsibility are demonstrated strongly. Plus there are some kaka chicks which are ‘quite cute’ according to at least one very impressed six year old.
In the series Kirkby-McLeod and McKessar have provided an opportunity for parents to talk about some significant elements of life in New Zealand with their children. Plus the reading level means that the text is accessible to young readers.
Reviewer: Chris Reed