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Island of the Aunts

3.91 of 5 stars 3.91  ·  rating details  ·  6,165 ratings  ·  291 reviews
On a mysterious island somewhere in the Atlantic, three eccentric aunts kidnap some children to help them care for an assortment of astonishing creatures, not only those of the sea, but also mermaids, a couple of ghosts, and a talking worm.
Hardcover, 281 pages
Published October 23rd 2000 by Dutton Children's Books (first published 1999)
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My Name Is Rapunzel by K.C. HiltonThe Wide-Awake Princess by E.D. BakerPrincess Ben by Catherine Gilbert MurdockThe Secret of Platform 13 by Eva IbbotsonIsland of the Aunts by Eva Ibbotson
5th out of 52 books — 19 voters
Lord of the Flies by William GoldingTreasure Island by Robert Louis StevensonAnne of Green Gables by L.M. MontgomeryThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre DumasIsland of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
Books Set on Islands
90th out of 405 books — 131 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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I'm still not entirely sure what I thought of this book... part of me really liked it, and part of me didn't. I suppose if half stars were allowed, I’d award this 3 and a half, but since there aren’t, I’ll err on the plus side.

First of all, I very much enjoyed Ibboston's style of writing. She definitely has a flare for words and a wonderful way with unique descriptions. She's also able to give one a feeling of a character in just a few phrases, something it seems few authors are able to do. I th
Jonathan Peto
I just finished reading this book to my son, who is nine, and he expressed curiosity about whether there was a sequel, which surprised me. He never complained while I read it, which surprised me first, because Island of the Aunts is not like the books he reads on his own and I myself had some mixed feelings about the story.

An appreciation of Eva Ibbotson in the Horn Book a year or two ago convinced me to pick this up. Like other reviewers here, I loved the author's writing style, which was lyric
Mike (the Paladin)
Once again I find myself in a "startlingly small" minority about a book. I find myself wondering if it's something generational here? Now, my children are all grown, but given the opportunity, I'd probably not have read this one to them... (but to quote one of the Aunts in the book "you know how men are." Really? What would be the reaction if I said "you know how women are"? That's a phrase we don't use anymore because it's deemed to be demeaning. Apparently "men" can't be demeaned. To be fair, ...more
Mar 03, 2009 Blessing rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Easy read and fun to imagine it being real today.
Recommended to Blessing by: I got it from my mom's house
I got this book at mom's house when she was letting us pick 5 books out.
This is a real story - meaning not fantasy, but it actually has some things that wouldn't be classified as "real". It has mermaids that have been in an oil spill and selkie seals that when you look in their eyes you can see a human spirit. There is also the have to read the book to find out why this Kraken is so beautifully created by the author.
Taking place from England, there are 3 aunts (they have a nephew
Jul 08, 2010 Kathryn rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fantasy fans, those seeking books on protecting the environment or on broken homes
Having read and loved Ibbotson's The Great Ghost Rescue, I had high hopes for my journey to the Island of the Aunts. And I must now consider myself an Ibbotson fan! I love her style. For me, it is the closet thing to JK Rowling's that I've found in terms of characterization and humor and blending magic with "the real world" but Ibbotson also has her own flare and it just makes me smile to read her work.

That said, I must say I was a little disappointed with "Island of the Aunts" Maybe my expectat
Island Of The Aunts is Eva Ibbotson's magical, sea-side fantasy with an environmental message.

Three oddball aunts; Etta, Coral and Myrtle live on a secret island.....caring for a wide variety of animals ranging from ordinary chickens to mystical creatures like selkies, boobries and even a family of abandoned, oil-slick mermaids. But managing the ever-increasing menagerie is a full-time job and the aunts aren’t getting any younger.

So the best option seems to be to kidnap some children and bring
Abby Johnson
Sisters Etta, Cora, and Myrtle are getting older and they know that they're going to need some help taking care of the creatures that reside on their island. What they need are a couple of strong, open-minded children. Children nobody seems to want. Children who will grow up on the island and learn to love and care for the creatures that come there for help. There doesn't seem to be any other way to get such children except to kidnap them. So that's what the sisters decide to do.

When Minette and
Island of the Aunts is the second book I read from Eva Ibbotson. Which makes me pity myself for discovering the author this late. The book didn’t fail my expectations, for Ibbotson makes bizarre things out of common, of creating wonderful and unforgettable characters without being far-fetched from reality.

The book tells the story of the three aging sisters who live in a remote island somewhere in Greenland. Along with their father who decided to stay in the island and started everything, the thr
A somewhat naughty adventure story of children and their foray into the world of fantasy creatures these 'aunts' move in. It's a good story with several references to things that probably don't belong in there: adult issues, mainly. There is also a nudist colony in this story, and while I felt it was dealt with well, I also wondered why it had to be in there. Just silly fun, overall, especially once kids are of an age to process the weird parts. Which would vary by age.
I am wavering between 3 and 4 stars. I really like Eva Ibbotson's writing, so I would like to give it 4 stars. But I just wasn't that excited about the book. I think the thing that bothered me most was that the aunts kidnapped children. Sure, I know why they did it. But I still didn't like it. And I didn't feel particularly tied to any of the characters, which is disappointing. The aunts were the best-developed characters, but they were also kidnappers, so I couldn't get too emotionally attached ...more
When it comes to old ladies kidnapping kids and making them do strange tasks, I think I can relate. But you have to laugh. They really do mean well, and sometimes you learn some things you never would have if they didn't kidnap you. Other times, you just have to shake your head and wonder if they're not just losing their minds.
Z Cat
G-R-E-A-T!!! I mean, how many good-guys kidnap children?
Julie Decker
Etta, Coral, and Myrtle are the caretakers of a magical island: that is, its inhabitants are in some cases supposedly mythical creatures, odd animals, and assorted supernatural creatures. But they aren't getting any younger, and they soon realize they need help caring for their island. They develop a plot to kidnap children to do it, because adults can't be trusted not to exploit the island or reveal it to the outside world. So three children are plucked from their own lives--where they are inte ...more
Dougal Trump
This is a brilliant book about an amazing island and some crazy aunts who kidnap some kids - but I wouldn't mind being kidnapped by the crazy aunts because their island is FULL of interesting creatures and the kids get to look after them. They also get MUCH better food than my mum cooks.
I had a few problems with this books but not, it seems, the same problems other readers did. Other reviews talk about how the aunts kidnap children, and how the book tries to justify it, because someone needs to take care of the animals, and besides, the children weren't happy at home anyway. While I don't condone kidnapping children, even if they are unhappy, I guess for a fun kids book I was able to look past it. Willful suspension of disbelief, I guess.

What bothered me, though, were all the t
I read this book in third grade and then in fourth grade and it was literally my favorite book but all my friends are making fun of me because I liked it and nobody understands how good it is
McKenzie Richardson
Interesting book. This is an easy read and Ibbotson's writing is very well done. The only hesitation I have about this book is its premise kind of gives me the creeps. It is about a group of women who kidnap children to help them take care of the animals on an island. The children end up enjoying their time on the island and don't want to women to get in trouble for kidnapping them. The whole time I was reading it, I kept getting tripped up by Stockholm Syndrome vibes. The premise was kind of cr ...more
Rebecca Falus
Island of the aunts by Eva Ibbotson is about a bunch of woman who protect an island with amazing creatures who are hurt. Unfortunately they are getting old and this responsibility has become too much to handle. They decided that the island needed new care takers who are younger but just as responsible. They set out to find kids whos parents didn't love them and were still smart and kind. they would only take kids who were miserable. Then the woman took them to the island to takeover. I would giv ...more
I can see why someone likened Ibbotson's style to Ronald Dahl - particularly in regard to idiotic/mean parents - but just without so much of the underlying meanness.

As a parent, I myself was leery about the kidnapping premise. However, during the book club discussions it became apparent that the kids who read the book completely understood the illegality of the kidnapping, but accepted it as fantasy;and they were altogether more disturbed by the behavior of the parents (particularly the divorced
I love Eva Ibboston!!! Even though her books aren't for teens they're amazingly good. They make me feel like a little kid again :)
This is another one of those books I think I would have enjoyed immensely had I first read it when I was around 9-12 ... unfortunately, reading it as an adult, it fell a little flat. I could appreciate it from a distance, so to speak, but I never fully engaged with it. I also couldn't read about Minette's parents without feeling sick to my stomach (another problem I wouldn't have had as a child with less experience of the world). So, one I will cheerfully hand to my kids in a few years, but not ...more
Leah Beecher
This is my second stab at reading Eva Ibbotson. Unlike the first one we tried, we finished this one; just barely. We skipped some chapters at the end, which meant we probably missed good parts, but really it was just getting too long. The premise and tone started out so good. Very Roland Dahl, with strange "Aunts" {which is a British term for hired women who accompany children that must travel long distances alone...apparently a typical occurrence in the UK?}. The Aunts are bizarre and weird, bu ...more
Aunt Etta, Aunt Coral and Aunt Myrtle are getting old and can no longer keep up with all of the creatures of they're island like they used to - after all, mermaids, selkies, and boobries take a lot of work. However, they know that they cannot trust other adults to take care of the island the way they do. So they decide that they need some children. There is only one problem - they don't have any. Eventually the aunts decide that the only way to get some kids is kidnapping. After all, some child ...more
I see a lot of objections in the reviews of this book to the "kidnapping" device of the story. Adults are having a big problem with the concept of kidnapping - but not the fantasy. I think we often stint on giving credit to children's intelligence. You only have to look at the cover of this book (with the giant eye of the Kraken and the mermaid) to see this is a book of fantasy. The first sentence tells you what you already know, that kidnapping children is not a good idea. Nor, I might add, is ...more
B. Hale
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Matilda Peck
"Island of the Aunts" is a fabulous story of an island filled with the most extraordinary creatures. Selkies, mermaids, stoorworms, and broobies are just the beginning. Two children are kidnapped and taken to the island, but they soon love the island as much as the aunts do. They help to defend the island against the outside world and they don't want to leave their new special friends. Eva Ibbotson (the author) has created a children's paradise as she describes the island: "The children ran out ...more
2009 review (see 2012 review following):
Children's lit, but total delight to read. Very well written, detail exquisite--never gets "purple" but paints a clear picture of a fabled island. I still have a little problem with the "kidnapping" part, even though for a good cause and bettered the children's lives when they were returned to their families, but it keeps bothering me a bit.

The four aunts aren't individually memorable to me, except I do know Aunt Myrtle is the one who plays her cello to t
"Aunts" Etta, Coral and Mytle live in a secret island with Captain Harper who loves to tell stories again and again and again.... For the sake of the island and for those who live there, the three aunts must kidnap children: a boy and a girl. Minette and Fabio become the "chosen" children and, yes, also Lambert gets kidnapped by a mistake.

In the island they meet the strangest creatures one can never imagine. Queenie and Oona, the twin mermaids; Herbert the Silkie (Silkies are seals but they are
So far this is the 3rd story I’ve read by Eva Ibbotson, but unfortunately it’s my least favorite. It starts charmingly enough with the Aunts explaining that kidnapping is bad, but in this case it needs to be done. They need someone who will continue on with their legacy of caring for the magical and regular creatures that come seeking help to their far off island. Since neither of the three has children kidnapping is the only way. I know some reviewers had a problem with the kidnapping part, but ...more
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Eva Ibbotson (born Maria Charlotte Michelle Wiesner) was a British novelist specializing in romance and children's fantasy.

Eva Ibbotson was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1925. When Hitler came into power, Ibbotson's family moved to England. She attended Bedford College, graduating in 1945; Cambridge University from 1946-47; and the University of Durham, from which she graduated with a diploma in edu
More about Eva Ibbotson...
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“one of the sisters started shaving her legs and marrying tax inspectors, so she was no good.” 21 likes
“One can always bear what is right.” 8 likes
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