Chosen by the Junior Library Guild for their catalogue

Owen has always done well, even without trying that hard. He gets As in school, is an avid photographer and knows he can count on his family’s support. But then Owen makes a mistake. A big one. And now he must face his fear of disappointing his entire family.

A last-minute trip to Iceland, just Owen and his granddad, seems like the perfect way out. For Owen’s granddad, the trip is about paying tribute to a friend with Icelandic roots. But Owen has a more urgent reason for going: he must get back the notebook his granddad accidentally sent to the Iceland archive. He can’t let anyone read the things he wrote in it!

The pair gets on a plane, excited to leave their prairie town for a country of lava fields, glaciers and geysers. However, as they explore Iceland, the plan to recover Owen’s notebook starts to spiral out of control. Why does Owen’s granddad seem so confused and forgetful?

And can Owen really hide the truth of what’s in his notebook?

Rating: 5 out of 5.
  • School Library Journal: “A love letter to the process of research, the experience of writing poetry, and Iceland.”
  • Canadian Children’s Booknews: “Jessica Scott Kerrin has written an intriguing and thoughtful treatment of the onset of dementia through one boy’s eyes.”
  • Quill & Quire: “A suspenseful narrative…with a quiet main character coming to terms with his own fallibility and that of his family members.”
  • Atlantic Books Today: “The relationship between Owen and his grandfather is genuine and touching. A quietly powerful gem, this novel will find a special place in readers’ hearts.”
  • Kirkus Reviews: “This is a gentle novel of love, loss, and self-fulfilment, all intertwining in Owen’s life. The present-tense, third-person narrative primarily focuses on Owen’s point of view, permitting a believable and nuanced exploration of his emerging self-awareness. Owen, Neville, and Owen’s dead but much-missed grandmother Aileen are fully realized characters. Even the (real) poet Stephansson emerges from the pages of this quiet tale. A tender and affecting coming-of age story (Fiction. 10-14).”

Bonus materials