Children's Book of The Month: The Girl of Ink & Stars

Posted on 29th April 2016 by Peter Whitehead
The Girl of Ink & Stars is the much-anticipated choice for our Children’s Book of the Month. That rare thing – a genuinely timeless, heart-on-its-sleeve adventure – this fictional debut from Oxford-based Kiran Millwood-Hargrave is as beautifully produced as it is written.

Kiran Millwood Hargrave began establishing her reputation as a wordsmith through poetry, her work appearing internationally in a number of prestigious literary journals such as the London-based quarterly Agenda. By 2013, Neil Astley – the founder of Bloodaxe Books and editor of the perennial poetry collection Staying Alive – judged her poem Grace the winner of the Yeovil Literary Prize. In 2014, news of a two-book deal with both Random House in the States and Chicken House Scholastic in the UK began to surface, ultimately leading to Hargrave’s fictional debut, The Girl of Ink & Stars.


“There was only one map that showed the whole of our island, and it hung in Da’s study. I called it Ma’s map because it had been passed down through her family for generations, maybe ever since Arinta’s time, a thousand years ago. It had always felt like a sign that Ma and Da were meant for each other, that he was a cartographer and her only heirloom was a map.

Each of us carries the map of our lives on our skin, in the way we walk, even in the way we grow, Da would often say. See here, how my blood runs not blue at my wrist, but black? Your mother always said it was ink. I am a cartographer through to my heart.”


More than perhaps anything else, The Girl of Ink & Stars is a tale of pure courage, of how belief and self-will can overcome all. Isabella is a cartographer’s daughter, the devastated, monster-filled world once mapped by her father now largely off-limits beyond her city’s walls. 

When her best friend goes missing within this wasteland, Isabella – with her unique knowledge of maps and stars – implicitly understands she can find her, immediately electing to lead a mission to bring her friend home.


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