The Extraordinary Voyage of Katy Willacott

The Extraordinary Voyage of Katy Willacott

By Author / Illustrator

Sharon Gosling



Age range(s)



Little Tiger Press Group




Paperback / softback




Living among the flowers and ferns of Kew Gardens, Katy has always dreamed of more - of the sky and the stars and the sea. Unfortunately for Katy, her father doesn't understand. He says young girls should be content to stay at home, not go off gallivanting around the world.  So when news reaches London of a meteorite falling in the faraway land of Brazil and an expedition being put together to find it, Katy knows it's her chance to follow her dreams and prove her father wrong. And winning a place on the trip is just the start of her extraordinary voyage on the trail of a fallen star...

A thrilling historical adventure from the author of THE HOUSE OF HIDDEN WONDERS, perfect for fans of Katherine Woodfine, Lucy Worsley, Jennifer Bell and Robin Stevens.



The Extraordinary Voyage of Katy Willacott takes us back in time to the end of the Victorian era, when the Natural History Museum first opened and voyages of exploration were still bringing new plants back to Kew Gardens to record and study. 

Katy Willacott's parents both work at Kew Gardens, and as a result they have a house in Kew Gardens from where they can observe and record plant life. Katy is also destined for a life as a recorder and illustrator of plants but she'd rather be her brother, who is already helping her father on digs for fossils and other explorations.  When she hears of a ship sailing to the Amazon to find a meteorite that has been observed landing in the rainforest, Katy hatches a plan to board the ship disguised as a cabin boy and to find the meteorite herself. 

There are lots of dangers to face on her journey but Katy finds help in unexpected places, particularly from two children who live in the rainforest and who help her to navigate a way to where they believe the meteorite might have landed. What Katy discovers from the children's lives gives readers a valuable insight into how the developed world's desire for the rainforest's products is already leading to the destruction of parts of the Amazon.

As well as giving us a glimpse into the Amazon, author Sharon Gosling builds a detailed picture of life at the time for Victorian families; the details on board the ship also feel authentic and build a picture for the readers of the setting. Together with Katy's observations about the developed world's impact on the rainforest, this would be a good book to share alongside work or discussions around the rainforest and the environment, or with maps and journeys.  The story also has a lot to say about the limits placed on girls and women at the time and how their ambitions were frustrated by powerful white men, which could lead to some lively discussions.

At its heart, The Extraordinary Voyage of Katy Willacott is a fabulous adventure story about girls and women achieving great things, and it has a strong environmental message, too. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

288 pages / Reviewed by Sam

Suggested Reading Age 9+


Other titles