Kid’s Book Review: Between Sea and Sky

Kid’s Book Review: Between Sea and Sky

About the Book and Author

This is a fantasy novel that any reader, aged 10-14 years, who appreciates the wonders of the natural world will especially enjoy. It is written by Nicola Penfold and is published by Little Tiger Press.

In a near future where a series of environmental disasters has left much of the country underwater, Pearl lives on a floating oyster farm with her father and younger sister, Clover. Following her mum’s death several years earlier, Pearl refuses to set foot on land, believing her illness was caused by the poisons in the ground. Meanwhile, Clover dreams of school, friends and a normal life.

Then Nat comes to spend the summer at the sea farm while his scientist mum conducts some experiments. Leaving behind the mainland, with its strict rules and regulations, he brings with him a secret. But when the sisters promise to keep his secret safe, little do they realise that they may be risking everything…

Between Sea and Sky cover
Nicola Penfold

Nicola Penfold is a children’s writer whose first book Where the World Turns Wild is also published by Little Tiger Press.

Nicola studied English at St John’s College, Cambridge and she has worked in a reference library and for a health charity, but being an author who writers stories about the natural world is always the job she wanted most of all. You can find out more by visiting her website.





Book Review

Once I got to the twist near the end I couldn’t put it down as I needed to know what would happen.

I knew from the blurb that I would love this book, because it sounded interesting and different, and I was right. It is absolutely amazing!

It drew me in right from the first page, although it did make me wonder how the story was linked to the blurb because at the beginning it doesn’t seem to have much to do with the description on the back cover of the book. But as the story went on, it all became clear.

I liked how the story was told by two people, swapping every few chapters, and at one point they overlapped, telling the same part of the story from two different perspectives. This makes the story better as it shows how the same situation can be experienced differently by two individuals.

I found that the book was so well written that over the few days in which I read it, it completely drew me into the world of the book.

One thing that made me keep reading was the fact that it was very interesting. I especially enjoyed reading about all the different creatures and environments, and the difference between sea and land and the people who lived in each place. I think this enriched the world in which the book was set, because it showed the differences in the way the people who lived there had grown up.

My favourite part of the setting is the floating oyster farm where Pearl, her dad and her illegal sister live. Pearl doesn’t trust land, not since her mum died, but when two landlubbers arrive at their farm, she has to get used to them. Clover has no trouble with this as she has always wanted to have other people to socialise with. Pearl on the other hand is a little more reluctant to trust them, especially Nat. Over their stay at the farm Sora and Nat cause a fair amount of trouble which eventually causes Pearl to have to overcome her fear of land.

Once I got to the twist near the end I couldn’t put it down as I needed to know what would happen. Usually I can guess how a book will end, but with this one, I was completely surprised as I thought it was going to end differently.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy and is over the age of 10.


Once she had read the book Isabelle had couple of questions for the author which Nicola kindly answered. You can read their conversation below:

Isabelle What is the best thing you have found whilst mudlarking?

Nicola Great question! I should declare that I am a complete amateur, and I think for me beachcomber is a better description. I love walking on a seashore, and the treasure you can find there. Shells (though I don’t take many shells, they’re best left), fossils (I love fossil hunting on the Jurassic Coast!), old bits of pottery, sea glass. Shoeburyness on the Essex coast is the area that inspired Blackwater Bay in the book. Here you can find old bits of clay pipe, used to smoke tobacco in the past, but I’ve only ever found short stem sections. I think you need to look further up the Thames, in London, to find more complete parts, and for this you do need a mudlarking permit. You can get a day permit I think.

I think the best beach treasure I’ve found are fossils. I once found an ichthyosaur vertebra! That was very exciting. I’ve also found some pretty nice shiny ammonites, and tiny star shaped crinoids! Below are some photos of my favourite treasures. If you’re interested in washed up things, you should look at the Instagram and Twitter account @LegoLostAtSea It’s incredible!

Isabelle Do you tend to base your books on, or include in your books, thingss that you know about such as larking?

Nicola I don’t actually do this intentionally, but passions in my life have found their way into the books. In Where the World Turns Wild, it was walks in the wood, but also glasshouses. I adore glasshouses! And then in this book, my sea book, it has been a really nice opportunity to talk about beachcombing, or mudlarking, which is one of my absolutely favourite things to do. Also, I’m fascinated by cormorants, and sometimes see them on a local urban waterway I walk next to taking my kids to school. This is why cormorants appeared in the book. I like dolls too – one of my daughters has loved dolls ever since she was tiny. I managed to get an old rag doll in Where the World Turns Wild, and in Between Sea and Sky Pearl collects washed up broken dolls and remakes them into mermaids.


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Reviewer Profile

  • Name: Isabelle
  • Age: 12 years
  • Likes: football, climbing tress and writing stories
  • Dislikes: mushrooms and Star Wars
  • Favourite Book: The Pear Affair by Judith Eagle
  • Favourite Song: Blank Space by Taylor Swift
  • Favourite Film: Dumplin'