Stranded – a mostly true story from Iceland

If you know us at all you know that I have a fascination with volcanos and a non expert knowlege of them so being asked to review Stranded, a tale based on the volcanic island of Surtsey, was not something I was going to say no to.

*This blog post may contain affliliate links, which if you click through to, and make a purchase, will earn me a small amount of revenue. These links will be marked with * for your reference*


Based on a true story, the author humorously recounts the time his grandfather got stranded with a friend on Surtsey, a brand new volcanic island in Iceland. The adventurers face epic challenges like molten lava, melted eyeglasses and scant supplies before finally getting rescued. Graphic novel-like layouts and spirited text invite readers to search for the one thing that’s not actually true in this thrilling yet light-hearted tale of adventure. Endnotes include information about volcanoes, Icelandic culture and Norse mythology.

Surtsey is a volcanic island that formed in 1963 literally out of the ocean, near Iceland and is now a protected site and studied by scienstists from around the world. As someone who is absolutely fascinated by volcanos, although I was too young (my kids claim I am as old as the hills and dinosaurs but I am not really) to be alive when Surtsey formed I have warched many vidoes and read about the island.

Stranded, by Ævar Þór Benediktsson is a fun, but also fact filled and educational children’s book about that very island with brilliant illustrations and page gripping adventure themes and the author shares how his grandfather and a friend get stuck there but finally escape but not without having to escape and navigate trouble on an island that is alive and doesn’t have their best interests at heart. But which part of the story is true and what isn’t? You will need to read the book to find out, I am not going to spoil that for you.

I love this book and my son did too, because it’s fact filled and also fun, and the illustrations by Anne Wilson and information, loaded with facts about Icelandic culture, geology and vulcanology and Norse Mythology (something we have also studied as home educators) and it’s a great book for older readers for both entertainment and educational purposes. The author writes with clever humour whilst mixing real life about what to many is still a mysterious island to many.

You can get you hands on a hardback or paperback copy here * or from Barefoot Books and it would be a great addition to a library at school for educational reading around the topic of vulcanology and also as a general reading book. Whilst I am not a kid anymore, I thoroughly enjoyed it and would definitely recommend as an adventure fact book for kids (and adults who might like tales of volcanos too!)

About the Author & Illustrator

Ævar Þór Benediktsson

Ævar Þór Benediktsson is one of Iceland‘s most popular authors. He is Iceland‘s first UNICEF Ambassador and is known for launching popular nationwide reading challenges to encourage Icelandic children and teenagers to read more. In 2017 Ævar was chosen as one of the Aarhus39 – a collection of the 39 best emerging writers for young people from across Europe. He is the author of more than 30 books.

Anne Wilson

Anne Wilson was born on Ascension Island, a volcano in the South Atlantic. Her work is inspired by everyday life and traveling. The images she creates are constructed in layers, starting with drawing, mark making and printing, these are then manipulated in Photoshop. Anne has an MA in illustration from St Martins College of Art, London and has been an illustrator for over 20 years. She has illustrated many projects for Barefoot Books, including We’re Roaming in the Rainforest and The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales.

Posted in Book reviews and tagged Ævar Þór Benediktsson, kids books, Stranded, Volcano books.