Noah’s Gold by Frank Cottrell-Boyce

Illustrated by Steven Lenton.

Published by Macmillan Children’s Books, 2021.

Noah’s Gold is a joyous book. I loved its cast of characters and the brilliant humour – it had me laughing out loud all the way through.

Eleven-year-old Noah has accidentally stowed away on his older sister Eve’s geography field trip. Due to their teacher’s over-reliance on his sat nav, the group end up marooned on an uninhabited island. Their phones don’t work and the internet is down. There’s no way of contacting home. Their teacher vanishes and the six children are left alone – hungry and unsure what to do now that they can’t consult Google. Then Noah discovers a treasure map and the children go in search of gold (and the reset button for the internet) …

Noah’s Gold is a fantastic adventure story. There’s plenty of excitement and unexpected twists, and so many stand-out scenes. Noah zipping round the bay clutching to the back of a basking shark was one of my favourites!

I also loved the children’s resourcefulness and resilience. It was great to see them work as a team and thrive in such inhospitable conditions. The group dynamics are realistic and I really enjoyed the dialogue – there was so much humour! Oh, and the annotated map of the island with all the places that the children have quirkily named is a delight!

One of the major themes of the book is people’s dependency on the internet and their obsession with social media and online validation. On the journey to the island the children don’t look up from their screens. When they later realise that they no longer have a phone signal they are completely lost. They question the point of taking photos if they can’t be shared on a feed, feel less valued without their virtual likes, and panic about lost knowledge without a search engine at their fingertips. However, as they spend more time on the island, the children begin to change. Cut off from their phones, they begin to notice their surroundings and take in the world around them. They talk and laugh with each other in real life, not via a news feed.

The book also explores the issue of food poverty. We get some insights into Noah and Eve’s home-life; their family is poor and they often need to use a food bank. The subject is sensitively handled and reflects what is a sad reality for many children.

Steven Lenton’s lively black and white illustrations perfectly capture the different children’s personalities and help to really bring the island to life.

Noah’s Gold is full of warmth and wit, friendship and family, dive-bombing gannets and – quite possibly – faeries.

Rating: 💙💙💙💙💙

Suitable for children aged 8+

Thank you to Macmillan Children’s Books for sending me this book to review.

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