The Secret of the Lonely Isles

Secret of the Lonely Isles

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Published by Random House Australia 2011 ISBN: 978 1 74166 252 8
Pages: 191
Age Range: Confident readers 9+

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To order an author-signed copy, email Anna at The Bookshop, Darwin

Teaching Notes

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Four kids on a yacht, a seafaring aunt, and a hundred-year-old mystery . . .

Jem’s world has been turned upside down by a family crisis, and then it gets worse. Just when it all seems too hard, along comes Ella, Jem’s great-aunt, who’s also a solo round-the-world sailor. She decides that what Jem, his sister Maddy and brother Tyler need is a sea change. But is seasickness the only thing that Jem adds to his list of woes? What’s the mystery that Ella is chasing? Why does Jem keep having strange and troubling dreams, and what could they mean? And who is stalking them all?


The Northern Territory setting adds its own special dimension to the story as do the different backgrounds of the characters and their varying voices. Showing some similarities to the books of Michael Morpurgo, this could be paired with adventure stories from other countries and used to compare both style and content. With its distinctly Australian writing, and the themes of overcoming one’s fears, insecurities and self absorption to assist the family, this engaging adventure/mystery would make an entertaining class read aloud for middle primary children.

- Jo Schenkel,

An exciting adventure mystery that will make you keep turning the pages and is definitely for anyone who likes treasure, sea adventures and solo sailing aunts.

- ‘READINGS’ Independent Bookseller of the Year

A great yarn set in the modern day, on the Northern Australian coastline. This would be a neat read for eight year olds to teens.

- Tauranga City Library, New Zealand

Within the narrative Van Os manages to capture both the sense of timelessness that happens on the ocean and the sense of imminent danger that comes from travelling so far away from land on an unpredictable medium. As with all the best adventures, this is as much a journey of the human spirit as it is a geographical one.

- NSW Association for Gifted and Talented Children