People have different ways of finding happiness and this story is about a sailor who yearns for solitude after a long life at sea. He finds refuge on a barren island and lives there until the Queen of Portugal, informed about his existence by the crews of passing ships, demands his presence at her palace.
The story is told simply and elegantly and there is effective use of dialogue to show the thoughts and feelings of the different characters. Fine illustrations move on the narrative; a sharp line and gem-like colours show the transformation of the island from a barren rock to a place where trees, vegetables, fruits and all manner of creatures flourish. The illustrations vary in size and shape and so we have landscape double spreads showing the palace in all its colourful splendour while slim rectangles detail the man’s pursuit by the Queen’s seamstress who, on seeing him, has ‘decided there was more to life than mending the Queen’s underwear’.
Children sometimes ask if a story is ‘true’ and so it is interesting to read the book’s historical note on Dom Fernando Lopez and the legend of St. Helena.