So, this one story (novel) I read as a child. It was a around 250-400 page book with medium text size (and sketches on one every left page (almost). I only remember fragments of it. If anyone could help me identify it,

This boy uses a boat to flee to an island (supposedly uninhabited) not far away from his house. (He fled because of abuse from his alcoholic guardian, don't remember if it was his dad-not fully certain about this). He builds a shelter there and also comes back to the village for supplies on his boat (with his friend, the boat had a limited capacity, he had some friends with him, I don't exactly remember how many). Everything was going good but then one day some new visitors come to the other side of the island and he and his friends try to hide but the visitors find a piece of thread (which I think one of his friend -a girl- left behind while sewing something). I don't remember the story after that.

I'm not perfectly certain of the details but it's mostly correct to my remembering though.

Authors I remember reading to as a kid - Enid Blyton, Daniel Defoe, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jules Verne, Alexander Dumas, H. G. Wells, Rudyard Kipling, Mark Twain if that would give any hint.

  • I was going to suggest Island of Adventure (aka Mystery Island) by Enid Blyton which has the boat, uninhabited island, four kids, mix of girls and boys, illustrations, etc - but I don't think it has the detail with the kids buildling a shelter or the thread (it's the kids who see evidence of the other lot through fresh tins not the other way around) plus there are other things I'd expect you to remember, like that the kids had a parrot, and the caves / tunnels in the island Mar 2, 2017 at 10:51
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    @user568458 The Famous Five were always building shelters on islands. Julian and Dick would find a space where there were saplings in a circle and bend them inwards, securing them at their tops over the centre then Anne and George would weave branches between the saplings to form the walls. Anne would probably have left sewing thread lying around, but I always thought that Timmy's poop would be a bigger giveaway in these situations...
    – Spagirl
    Mar 2, 2017 at 11:48
  • The question does not say the island is uninhabited. It says the boy's house is uninhibited. That's completely different. (And it might explain why the boy had to flee, if the house's lack of inhibition got a little aggressive.)
    – verbose
    Mar 2, 2017 at 21:48

1 Answer 1


This is almost certainly Secret Island by Enid Blyton.

I don't recall anything about an alcoholic guardian although the main protagonists Grandfather is leaving to stay with a relative.

The part with a visitor finding a thread is definitely in the book.

Other points you may recognise:

  • They frequently sink the boat to prevent it from being found
  • They 'swim' a cow over to the island for fresh milk
  • They build a 'living' house from willow trees
  • They have chickens
  • The have a winter hideout in a cave
  • The 'abuse' in the story was aimed at Peggy, Mike & Nora by their aunt and uncle who, thinking that the parents are dead/lost take advantage of free labour.

Peggy Arnold, and younger twin siblings Mike and Nora, are living with a harsh aunt and uncle after their parents are thought to have been killed in a plane crash. In this first adventure, aided by an orphan boy, Jack, they have befriended, they run away to an island on a nearby lake, and together they make a new home constructed with the branches of a willow tree, this much-loved "living house" being one of the highlights of the story.

However, living on one's own turns out to be far more difficult than they thought, and, along with a lot of fun and happiness, they also suffer a lot of hardship – especially when winter sets in. It does not help that the police are looking out for them, too, and Jack has to be very careful when he ventures ashore to sell produce at a market, and has one or two narrow escapes from being detained by them.

Wikipedia source

  • 2
    I'd managed to forget that not all Blytons were Famous Five, Secret Seven or Five Find-outers and Dog. From you description of their 'living house' of willow trees I think I remembered that scene, but attributed it to a different set of characters. I'd forgotten all about Nora and Mike, but I cared a great deal about them when I was a pre-teen.
    – Spagirl
    Mar 3, 2017 at 12:20

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