Today I’d like to introduce you to the first title in the What on Earth Books’ brand new Our Amazing World series. ‘Amazing Islands’ is a whirlwind tour of over 100 of some truly mind-blowing places.
This book is absolutely jam-packed with some of the most fascinating and diverse locations. After an introduction explaining what islands are and how they are made, readers are whisked around the world to South Georgia, the Galápagos, Christmas Island and Madagascar to name just a few.
Readers will be amazed by some the islands which have been reclaimed by nature and intrigued by some islands which have served as prisons. With a strong ecological theme running throughout, there’s plenty of food for thought about the impact humans are having on the planet.
As you can see from the spread above, Kerry Hyndman’s illustrations are absolutely stunning and truly capture the wonder of the featured landscapes. These, combined with with the cornucopia of facts and maps, make this book one to savour and treasure.
I was able to ask author, Sabrina Weiss, some questions about the creating of this awe-inspiring book:
Q1. Did your love of diving and the ocean help inspire you to create a book about islands?
Absolutely. Many tropical islands are surrounded by coral reefs teeming with life. Sharks and other large marine creatures will also cruise past these reefs on their epic migrations and stop for a snack. There’s lots to see while diving but the animal and plant life above the surface is equally impressive. Islands are the perfect combination of nature, culture and history and make for incredibly interesting places to explore.
Q2. The islands you have chosen to feature are largely untouched by humans. Why did you decide this was to be the case?
The animals and plants living on remote islands don’t just survive, they thrive. They may have arrived from distant places, travelling long distances across the water or may have been carried by the wind. Once they arrived on land, they had to adapt to the new environment and some animals and plants have evolved into new species with very unusual traits. The species found on isolated islands are often endemic, this means they are found nowhere else on Earth. That’s incredibly fascinating.
Q3. How many of the islands did you get to visit in person?
15. The first one being Venice when I was a child and the most recent one being Madagascar where I travelled to as a journalist.
Q4. What other research techniques did you have to use?
The inspiration for the islands featured came from books, maps, personal travels, and conversations with family and friends, and I read through lots of academic papers and news reports. That’s because I wanted to include and describe new discoveries and events. Hunga Tonga-HungaHa’apai in the Pacific, for example, was created after a submarine volcano erupted in December 2014. Less than six years later, the tiny ash island is already home to flowering plants, sooty terns and even barn owls.
Q5. Which of the islands would you most/ least like to be stranded on and why?
I wouldn’t mind being in Sri Lanka right now. It’s a beautiful island with wonderful people, great surf, and lots of wildlife to see from leopards to elephants to blue whales. I first visited the island country in 2017 and wanted to go back this year, but with all flights grounded at the moment, I guess that is still up in the air.
Q6. Why was it important to you that a strong message about environmental issues ran through the text?
The most pressing environmental issues, including climate change, pollution, depletion of resources and biodiversity loss are global issues but they hit islands particularly hard. Sea levels are rising around the world and at least eight low-lying Pacific islands are thought to have disappeared in the last century because of this. The island of Kiribati is still above water but could be the next to submerge. It is important to me to show how amazing islands are – be it in the ocean, rivers or lakes – and what is at stakes for the people, animals and plants living there.
AMAZING ISLANDS is written by Sabrina Weiss (@sabrinamweiss) and illustrated by Kerry Hyndman (@kerryhyndman) out now in hardback (£14.99, What on Earth Books)
So where will you be heading on your next adventure? Maybe this book will inspire you!
*Many thanks to What On Earth Books for inviting me to be part of this blog tour*