Grey Island Red Boat – Ian Beck


‘Grey Island Red Boat’ by Ian Beck is a masterpiece in modern storytelling yet manages to feel like a classic, traditional fairytale. Stunningly illustrated throughout with beautiful silhouettes set against the dark grey backgrounds which evoke a sense of sadness and disconcertment as we open the story. The wondrous colours which start to seep into the story create a powerful reaction in the reader as they transform the lives of the people living this grey existence.


Princess Opal lives a lonely life on the Island of Ashes which is grey. The sky, the sea, the land, the castle everything is grey even her throne is grey. The coldness of the grey world they live in feels like a mist surrounding the people and you can feel their misery as they exist in this world without colour. Opal knows something is missing and she wishes her life was different, but it all changes when one fateful day a battered boat is found adrift at sea and Wendell Lightfoot is washed up ashore. Wendell believes himself cursed, whatever he touches is filled with light and colour, bringing joy and happiness to the people of the island. The King is instantly suspicious of this magic and locks him in the dungeons yet Opal can’t forget the joy she felt at seeing colours and visits him in secret. Will the Princess and Wendell find their happy ever after?


This book is a joyous tale which weaved a spell over me just like the colours do to everyone who sees them throughout the book. It is an enchanting, delightful story and Ian’s divine illustrations enhance the experience as they manage to totally change the atmosphere as the story unfolds. It would be perfect to share with a younger child as a bedtime story or for newly confident readers to enjoy independently. The quality of the production is superb and I love the activities hidden under the book flaps nestling against the cloudy endpapers. Every school should have Little Gems books they manage to bring together the very best children’s authors and illustrators to create the most amazing range of books.


If you would like to find out more about Little Gems you can read my blog here.

To find out more about Ian Beck you can visit his website here.

Ian is the author of another gorgeous Little Gems book ‘First Third Wish’ which is glorious and very popular in my school library.

Thank you to Barrington Stoke for sending me a copy of this book.

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