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I have a place in my heart where I go when I want to experience real life and you know it isn't very far away. Nestling just off the mainland of Scotland are the islands which make up the Outer Hebrides and one very special part of these is the island of North Uist.
This is a place where if you go you will be captivated by the beauty and the peace of an island which has a stunning view stretching out in every direction. There are all different variations of the colours of turquoise both in the sea and the lochs, and there are carpets of meadow flowers in the summer which fringe the white sandy beaches.
It isn't summer when the book begins but spring. Sandra Klaassen takes us on a journey through her magnificent illustrations and simplistic childlike text to this paradise. She guides us through majestic pictures of windswept days and gale force winds to a place in time where a tiny newborn lamb is found abandoned on the shoreline.
She describes through the eyes of two young children how they took the little lamb home to care for her and how they fed her with a bottle. This is something I know will appeal to so many young children and adults alike. Recently I have had the joy of experiencing feeding and caring for new born lambs with my daughter who is a vet student and on cold dark nights these moments are cherished when lambs are totally dependant on humans to help them survive the long journey to adulthood if abandoned. In this place we are transported to one such moment on a remote Scottish island and the book makes you feel you are there- you can even feel the freezing temperature in your toes and hands it is such a vivid image.
Sandra describes how they called the lamb "Uan" which in Gaelic means "lamb". This part of the world still has a large percentage of Gaelic speakers and the book is a reflection of this. The lamb is cherished and placed in a little box in front of the Aga to keep warm and dry. Then as the story unfolds she is moved outside where she is given a cosy shelter out of the wind and the rain.
As time goes by she grows a thick coat and although she still seems very tame she is growing every day and is soon big enough to play in the fields with the other lambs.
This is a really wonderful sight and the illustrations are superb.
The book describes how the seasons turn until Uan has her own lamb and the book ends with the words saying"we thought she was the sweetest lamb of all".
Sandra Klassen has in my opinion created a masterpiece. She is originally from the Netherlands and has lived on the Island of North Uist since 2003. This book is a testament to the love and respect she has for the island and I think it would make the best Christmas gift for a child you could give. She is not only a wonderful author but the illustrations are exquisite giving the book a wide age range appeal.
If you ever get a chance to visit this island you will be rewarded with the sight of a wonderful landscape and people who survive on the edge of the world. In this book though you can be transported there in a moment from your armchair.
Published by Floris books and rrp is £8.99 hardback.