Child of St. Kilda by Beth Waters (2019) is a book that really captured my imagination. This nonfiction picture book introduces us to the community of the island of Hirta in the St. Kilda islands about 100 miles off the coast of Scotland. This remote community was so removed from mainland civilization that they did not use money and often couldn’t send mail for months at a time if the weather prevented ships from reaching the island. Normal John Gillies, whom the book focuses on, was born in 1925 and was one of the last children to live on the island. As technology made travel easier, more tourists appeared on the island, luring young residents to the mainland where life was easier. Eventually there were not enough people to sustain a community on the island and they asked to be relocated, leaving their ancestral home.
I feel like I always turn towards history and historical fiction in the fall. There’s something about the changing of the seasons that makes me yearn to learn about the past. This book certainly fit the bill for my fall reading. It perfectly evokes that nostalgic feeling that comes with learning about a people who don’t really exist anymore, at least not as a remote community like they once did. The vintage style illustrations evoke the past with their limited use of color and sketchlike quality. It’s a perfect pairing with the text that describes the wildlife, people, and culture of this vanished community. This is a fascinating book for anyone who’s curious about life in other countries and how people lived in the past. It is written for children, but I think this is a book that can be appreciated by readers of all ages.
— Abby Johnson, Collection Development Leader