“This book is for all Shetlanders who carried their home in their hearts when they crossed the seas to find new lives in new lands” says author Gay Hay in the dedication to her latest picture book.
It is also a delightful introduction to Shetland for any young child. Historical, cultural and natural details are cleverly woven into the story of Angela’s first visit to Shetland as memories recounted by her Grandma Ruby. In the magical images which accompany Angela’s story there is much to explore and discover, not least the yearly cycle of the lives of Shetland’s puffins.
(Shetland Times Bookshop, 2017)
About the Book
Gay Hay’s story begins with her husband, whose Shetland ancestry has shaped their family’s journey together. The Mouats left Shetland in 1922, travelling to New Zealand where they settled in Timaru. Like the puffins that come and go with the seasons, Shetlanders continue to feel the strong tug of their homeland. Readers are invited to join Angela (based on Hay’s daughter) on her journey of discovery as she explores her ancestral homeland and hopes to spy those wonderful little birds.
As the illustrator of this book, I was excited to work on a project that speaks so strongly to my passions. I have always been fascinated with exploring my Scottish heritage and have been lucky enough to visit Scotland several times, including a trip to Shetland where I could immerse myself in the landscapes, the people and puffins (and the wool!).
Combining traditional media such as watercolour and woodcuts with digital painting and layering has allowed me to create a rich and diverse world for the reader to explore alongside the main character, Angela. I hope children and adults alike enjoy discovering the little details hidden in each page. The parallel narrative of the puffin’s year adds another layer to the story, creating a dialogue between Angela’s hopes and experiences, and the wider world that continues on regardless.
‘In 2012 Sarah was shortlisted for the Gavin Bishop Award, an award to encourage the publication of new high quality picture books from emerging New Zealand illustrators. Will There be Puffins is the first children’s book Sarah has illustrated. Let these engaging, well-researched illustrations take you on a journey from New Zealand to the Shetland Islands. My guess is they mark the beginning of a remarkable career.’ Bob Kerr – painter, writer, illustrator
Will There Be Puffins? was reviewed in the October 2016 edition of Library Life. Read it HERE
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