The story unfolds in journal entries and watercolor illustrations made by 14-year-old Laura Perryman in 1907 and 1908. She tells of her life on one of Britain’s Scilly Isles, where her family’s survival depends on the mercy of the elements and the sea. One winter is particularly harsh, with the family’s cows sickening and dying, the weather destroying houses and boats, the food stores dwindling and Laura’s twin brother, Billy, running away to join a ship’s crew. As bleak as Laura’s days are, she is gentle enough to protect a sea turtle that might otherwise serve as food, and hopeful enough to dream of rowing in the island gig despite repeated declarations that a girl will never be allowed to handle one of the oars. Laura gets her chance in a dramatic storm and shipwreck, and helps save the island.
This book was inspiring and carried lots of emotion. Published in 1995, it had also won the Whitbread Children’s Book Award also in the same year.