The Island at the End of Everything, by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

This novel revolves around Amihan (Ami) who lives on Culion, an island in the Philippines for people with leprosy; a severe and potentially contagious disease. Her mother (or nanay) is amongst the infected, but Ami still loves her with all her heart. Ami’s island is all she has ever known; with its glistening blue ocean and lush green forests. However, the arrival of a malicious government official, Mr Zamora, turns her life upside down. All the ‘untouched’ on the island must leave – banished from her island and mother, Ami’s life seems to be in ruins.

With the help of the butterflies and a friend, will she be able to visit the island before her mother dies?

This book is a heart-warming tale of love, friendship and determination. Its beautiful cover caught my eye and, having read ‘The Girl of Ink and Stars’ by the same author, I was enticed to read this book.

Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s lyrical writing flows with the grace of the butterflies on the book’s cover. As a reader, you can truly empathise with the different characters and their precarious situation.

I would rate this book a 5/5 because the characters are very relatable, the story is uniquely gripping, difficult to put down and I have read this book time and time again. I would recommend this book to anyone age nine and above.

BAKE IT!
These exquisite cupcakes, inspired by the vivid colours of Culion and the butterflies central to the story, were fun to make and a divine snack to eat. However, they were all gone before I knew it!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups of self-raising flour
  • 1/2 a teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 a cup of butter (softened)
  • 3/4 of a cup of caster/white sugar (if you like your cupcakes very sweet, add a little more)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence (optional)
  • Print-out template of a butterfly
  • Wilton fondant (you can use coloured fondant or add a few drops of food colouring to white fondant)
  • Cupcake cases
  • Edible pearls for decoration

Buttercream

  • 140g butter (softened)
  • 280g icing sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons of milk
  • a few drops of food colouring

UTENSILS:

  • A bowl
  • An electric mixer
  • A spatula
  • A cupcake tray
  • A rolling pin
  • A piping bag or ziplock bag with a hole at one corner
  • A piping tip of your choice
  • A knife

METHOD:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190c or 375f.
  2. Line the cupcake tray with the cupcake cases.
  3. Cream the butter and the sugar until it is light and fluffy (make sure the butter is room temperature so the mixture does not clump). 
  4. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
  5. Gently add in the flour, mixed with baking powder and salt, alternating with milk. 
  6. Beat well and then stir in the vanilla.
  7. Divide the batter evenly into the cupcake tray and bake in the oven for 15 – 18 minutes.
  8. Once baked, let the cupcakes cool and start making the buttercream.
  9. Beat the butter until soft, add half of the icing sugar and beat in until smooth.
  10. Add the remaining icing sugar and one tablespoon of milk. Beat the mixture until creamy and smooth. 
  11. Pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes and colour your fondant.
  12. Add a few drops of food colouring to a handful of white fondant. Knead it and roll it out to a thickness of 1/2 a centimetre.
  13. Last but not least, cut out the butterfly shapes using the printed template. Place the butterflies in the freezer for 10 minutes to harden and then place them on top of the buttercream and sprinkle with beautiful edible pearls.

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