Book Club: Escape to the Moon Islands – Quest of the Sunfish

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Author: Mardi McConnochie
ISBN: 978-1-76029-091-7
RRP: $14.99

This month we looked at diversifying our Book Club titles and adding in something for younger readers, but not those so young the books needed to be read by a parent.


Quest of the Sunfish is written for the 9-12 year old demographic and some of our readers will be reviewing the book for us.

This book is the first in an exciting new series, with the second book due in April 2017.

Quest of the Sunfish is set in a post-apocalyptic world that could be quite like ours, after a world altering flood. Global warming caused sea levels to rise, and then there was a disastrous flood that completely changed the world. Many places are still under water decades later, the devastation was so widespread that rebuilding was prioritised leaving entire cities still under water or seriously flood damaged.

In the aftermath of the flood the Admiralty, the navy equivalent, stepped up and governed. Now that the crisis has passed there seems to be no more need for Admiralty control, according to some, but the Admiralty have no plans to relinquish power.

Will and Annalie are teen twins about to be tossed into a story that throws everything they know into chaos. Annalie is away at school when she is visited by an Admiralty officer and asked about her father’s whereabouts, which is the first she had heard of his disappearance. Rather than stay at school and worry she heads home to find her brother, and try to work out what is going on.

quest-of-the-sunfish

Their home has been destroyed and they have nowhere else to go so rather than sit back and wait to see what will happen Will and Annalie embark on a perilous adventure to see if they can track down their father and find out what’s going on.

Having spent a lot of time on the water growing up they are both quite confident sea-farers, so they head off in the direction they think they will find their father. Along the way they pick up a couple of unlikely runaways as deckhands and become quite a handy team, they are in a position that sees them having to put faith in one another to survive and they all bring quite a unique skill set to the voyage.

The Sunfish is the small boat that Will and Annalie spent much of their childhood aboard so they are familiar with the boat and its workings, they find themselves facing storms, pirates and Admiralty pursuit in this adventure filled journey across the high seas.

For a group of young teens this crew are faced with tough choices, a need to be adaptable and always have a back up plan and are forced to rely only on themselves for the first time in their lives.

Quest of the Sunfish is fast-paced and action packed with enough exciting differentiations from the world we live in to excite fantasy fans, but it’s still close enough to not be completely outside the realms of believable.

Quest of the Sunfish is book #48 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2016.

Thanks to Allen & Unwin 23 of our Beauty and Lace Club members will be reading Escape to the Moon Islands: Quest of the Sunfish with their children so please be aware there may be spoiler in the comments below. I look forward to hearing what they think.

Quest of the Sunfish is available now through Allen & Unwin, Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

24 thoughts on “Book Club: Escape to the Moon Islands – Quest of the Sunfish

  1. Loved it for a kids book it was really enjoyable and easy to read the beautiful bond between this family was great to read about and the courage and initiative the kids showed throughout the story would make me proud as a parent, My daughter is reading it now and totally enjoying it I can’t wait until the next book.

  2. from Jade… each night I have read to me three chapters of the book, and I am finding it is a very exciting story.. will they find spinner is what I wonder, and how well do they know how to sail a boat… I will progress further as more is read to me… thanks for the chance.

    1. wow I have now had the story read right thru to me, and I am hoping that perhaps later on, another book will come out about the children and their adventures… I have loved this one, and it is sitting on my shelf so that I can read it again by myself…. thanks for the chance, and wonderful story told. from Jade

  3. What an exciting little adventure so refreshing to find quality books for children that will engross them to the end open up their imaginations & actually read a Book. My older grandson loved it & now the younger one slowly reading it.
    Congratulations to Mardi McConnochie on a delightful story

  4. This was a great, easy to read book which explores the different relationships between people in a family and how they interconnect. It is creative and imaginative and holds the reader through to the end in a light and fun way with twists and turns suitable for the age group.

    This is a fun book which would appeal to both boys and girls.

  5. Miss 9 really enjoyed this book & I read a bit of it myself to see what it was all about. She liked the adventure aspect of the book, with Will & Annalei teaming up together to track down their missing Dad.

    My daughter is a competent reader so she could follow the language but this could be a little long & involved for less capable 9 year olds.

    We liked that it was a futuristic, post disaster type scenario with the floods & “The Admirality” trying to rule, this seems to be popular with tweens at the moment.

    Escape to the Moon Islands – Quest of thr Sunfish is great School Holiday reading for young adults & my daughter can’t wait to see what happens in the next instalment!

  6. Loved it was really enjoyable and easy to read the bond between this family made it more interesting to read about the courage the kids showed through the story made me proud to be parent,
    Escape to the Moon Islands – Quest of the Sunfish is great School Holiday reading which i will bring to the local library to read it to the children

  7. “Escape to the Moon Islands” is the first novel in a young adult series, aimed at kids around the age of 9 – 14 years. Both I and my 9 year old son read it, and then discussed it.

    The novel is set in a future world where environmental catastrophe has resulted in widespread flooding, famine, and a shortage of vital resources. Will and Annalie and their father, Spinner, live on the edges of the new society. Not quite down and out, they nevertheless definitely aren’t part of the mainstream, and are used to making do. When Spinner disappears, and Will and Annalie’s belief in their father conflicts with Government assertions about what Spinner has done, the two children embark on a perilous journey to find their father.

    When I read it, I was a little concerned that it took a couple of chapters to really get going, and that my son might find it hard to engage with it as a result. I needn’t have worried – by the end of the second chapter he was desperately pleading with me to tell him whether the kids found their dad by the end of the book.

    My son says “every kid should read this book!” He loved the action and adventure, and loved that the twins and their friends were coping without adults and dealing with a lot of problems themselves. Their independence really seemed to appeal to him. He had no problems with the language or concepts in the novel.

    From my point of view, this was an age appropriate and enjoyable read. There are some complexities in the world building and relationships that I don’t think my son fully appreciated, but which would add some greater depth for older readers. Having the central characters being an even mix of males and females, while perhaps a little obvious to an adult reader, will work to engage a wider readership.

    My son’s only complaint was that, being the first in a series, not all his questions were answered at the end, and he’s going to have to wait for the next to be published. We both recommend this highly for the target readership.

  8. Each night I have two or three chapters read to me, and I am enjoying this book. It is a great story for the likes of me, bit hard for me to read yet, even though I am advanced in reading, but I enjoy having it read… the story is a great one of courage for children to be able to go look for their missing dad, and any more books in this series I shall be , by then hoping to read myself.. (jade loves how it progresses.)

  9. Escape To The Moon Islands what a great adventure book
    We read a few chapters each night and I must say I loved this book as much as the kids
    The children in this book are amazing as they face the challenge of trying to find their father
    The kids realise that this is the first book in a series and will definitely want to read the other books

  10. By Miller:

    Brother and Sister set out on a boat to find their dad Spinner. The story was fun to read and something different for me. I read at night and it was relaxing. I am looking forward to the next book.
    I would recommend this book to my friends. Thank you

  11. My three children aged 13, 11 & 9 cuddled in bed with me and we each read, two chapters a night, out loud. They enjoyed the adventure and challenges the children faced in finding their father and they are very eager to read the next instalment…

  12. Firstly, I just want to say “WOW”. This book takes you on an adventure and makes you want to read page after page. It makes you feel involved in the story and want to help the characters along the way. I would DEFINITELY recommend this book to others so they can join in and help find Skipper.

  13. I received this book just prior to going on holiday to a tropical island. Perfect setting to read such an animated adventure story!
    I liked the strength of the characters and the bond between the friends and family. I also enjoyed the idea of trusting in your own instincts about people and that the children questioned the adults when it felt that things weren’t right.
    Each of the main characters complimented each other and drew in each other’s strengths.
    A positive story for younger people to read and will happily pass along to children in this age range.

  14. Little miss 11 year old and I read this gradually a few chapters every day – night whenever we felt like it. We arrived home early from holidays to find this goody in our mailbox and we delved in.

    Lovely illustrated cover, certainly a great start to delving into this book.

    Not recommended for children under the ages of 9. Miss was able to read at her own pace and read it easily.

    This novel is a, dystopian , fantasy – set in a future where due to hazards of the environment flooding occurs and other disasters.

    The main characters embark on an adventure to find their father. Initially slow at first to start, but as the story progresses Miss was asking questions and wanting to know where it was going lol

    Lots of action and adventure. A test of friendships, skill and team work. Story is well paced and the children enjoyable and great characters my daughter says.

    The characters were well put forth dealing with the fact there were no adults present and trying to find and adventure on a journey unknown.

  15. What a beautiful cover and story, my 10 yr old son really was so excited about this book. Having getting frustrated lately as he is an advanced reader and was bringing books home from school that were way under his level of reading so no wonder some kids lose interest in readin, so this book came in perfect timing as he has a new zest for reading now and is really enjoying it. I cant thank you all so much for this chance as it has definately made a difference to my son and my older one wants to read it too now. I think this book is wonderfully written and priced so I would definately recommend anyone of that age group to consider this book as my 13 yr old want to read it also so it is going to do 2 of my kids and that to me is value in experience and money.
    Fantastic writer and has my kids engrossed and wanting to continue each night we read, I even enjoyed time together with him which is priceless 🙂 We are very interested in this author now as it has captivated us.

  16. Ahoy, me hearties! Escape to the Moon Islands is a nautical adventure series starring two strong and resilient siblings. The book is an ambitious, speculative fiction one designed for young adult readers. It tackles some important topics like climate change, poverty, bullying and the misuse of power, and it handles this in a way that is appropriate and mindful of its target audience.

    This book is the first in a new adventure series called, Quest of the Sunfish and is by the critically acclaimed writer, Mardi McConnochie. Because this is book number one, McConnochie spends a fair amount of time creating the world and the different characters. The book also finishes with a number of unresolved elements, leaving things open so that the story can continue in the subsequent instalments. One quibble with this novel is that the story is an adventure one but the book itself is missing a map for the reader to go back and refer to. This would help in allowing the reader to imagine and reflect on this journey into another world.

    Escape to the Moon Islands begins when siblings, Will and Annalie learn that their father, Spinner has disappeared. Their family had been living off the grid and in subpar conditions. But in spite of this apparent poverty, Annalie was able to attend an expensive school because her father had recognised that she was a clever child. Her brother on the other hand, seemed more interested in joining his Dad on the old man’s small sailboat called The Sunfish.

    These characters live in a word where a major flood once occurred and wiped out large stretches of civilisation. It’s also one where society is ruled by a naval group called Admiralty. These rulers appear to be good but when Spinner is accused of stealing classified information and goes missing, it seems like there could be more to this story than originally met the eye.

    Will and Annalie decide to cast off and go on a voyage along the water in their father’s sailboat in an attempt to find him. They are joined by a chatty parrot named Graham and Annalie’s school friend, Essie. Along the way the pick up a former child slave named Pod. Their journey includes different adventures and brushes with villains like pirates, cannibals and authority in general.

    McConnochie should be commended for crafting such a complex story and not shying away from tackling some important issues in her book for young adults. Escape to the Moon Islands is easy to read and is an intense journey of discovery. This is the kind of trip that kids can learn from and one they ultimately won’t want to miss.

  17. My 11 year old step son is slowly but steadily reading this book . At first when I asked him how it was he said some of the words he couldn’t understand so he will now ask what they mean . He has been reading every night before sleep . So far he said he is enjoying this book and has already asked if we can get the second one lol . Will follow up once he is finished , I forget some don’t read as quick as me lol.

  18. My almost 10 year old sister was very excited to receive this book and found the picture on the cover interesting. Despite this book being marketed to 9-12 year olds, miss 9 found this book to be above her reading level and wasn’t able to read it alone. I think that this book is challenging for younger readers in this age group that are not advanced readers so would probably recommend it more so to 11-13 year olds. It is also worth keeping in mind that it is particularly long.

    Miss 9 said it was an exciting story of adventure and she enjoyed learning about the kids on their mission. She hopes she has progressed enough with her reading to be able to read the 2nd one by herself by the time it is released as there are many things left unanswered at the end of this one.

    I like that this book covers a lot of important issues in an age appropriate way and can be enjoyed by both kids and adults alike. The story certainly kept us entertained.

  19. Miss 9 was reading this book to review (she was very excited about the prospect of a new book as she is a great little reader and also excited about reviewing one!)
    She said: “I love the adventure in this book! The characters were nice and it was alot about family. I hope they find Spinner! I am looking forward to the next book so I can read about it more.It was really good”

  20. Both my tweens loved the book though my 12year old son enjoyed it more. The picture on the book immediately gripped their attention and they were really excited to read the book. The excitement and adventure and the strength of relationships and characters when faced with hard times and when under strain was a beautiful lesson for growing kids to learn from. My daughter did find bits of the book a bit scary but overall enjoyed the story. My son really enjoyed the danger and excitement in the story.

  21. My gosh what a great book, we have enjoyed this book looking forward every day to read a little more, it opened up a few discussions on the meaning of quite a few words and some of there context, it is definitely a book that needs to be read with an adult or of the like as the lauguage is beyond any child I know for the age grouping it is intended but in saying that I did love the fact that it challenged our kids to read words they didn’t know and ask what things meant in the context they were in, the beginning was very laborious when reading out loud and then explaining what it all mean but then when the setting was established I found it was easier for our kids to picture and form an understanding, when I first applied for this book I thought it would of related to the boys more, but it’s a great book for the girls as well as the boys, and I must say that I have enjoyed it a lot too, it’s great it get away from your own worries and woes and step into a fantastical world that’s not your own, thanks for this opportunity, it’s well worth your time to read it with your kids and other people’s too!

  22. What an ADVENTURE ! A must read for kids,
    A brilliant first novel in the seriers, well done to Mardi McConnochie. My son and I read this book together, we made it our nightly event.
    We loved the story line, what an adventute Spinner sent his kids out on. I very well written book with lots of events and incidents which kept you guessing.
    Cant wait for the sequel next year.

  23. My 8 year old avid reader is loving Escape to the Moon Islands, both reading chapters herself and having mum or dad read a chapter a bedtime. The amazing cover at sets the tone immediately for an exotic and exciting adventure story. The spirited, independent and courageous kids are quite inspiring in their quest, the strong characters and amazing adventures make for a thoroughly enjoyable read. We can’t wait for the next instalment! Thanks Beauty and Lace for introducing a great new series to our family.

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