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Heroes of Isle aux Morts

TitleHeroes of Isle aux Morts
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsWalsh, Alice, and Geoff Butler
PublisherTundra Books
ISBN Number0887765017
DescriptorsAnimals; Dogs; English Language; Families; Illustrated; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Picture Book; Sea Stories

Anne Harvey is a Newfoundland girl who is aware of the dangers of the sea. Early one stormy morning in 1828, she hears a distress signal and with her father, her brother and her Newfoundland dog, Hairy Man, she heads out to the rescue of the passengers of the ship Despatch. The family plays host to the stranded travellers until a supply ship is able to come and rescue them. This picture book by Nova Scotia author Alice Walsh is based on a true story. Geoff Butler is a Newfoundland artist.


Newfoundland and Labrador

Age Range


Author Profile: 

The Harvey family is a famous Newfoundland family that was responsible for rescuing over a hundred people from the ship, Despatch, after it crashed on the Isle aux Morts. Heroes of Isle aux Morts recreates the Harvey family's rescue of the shipwrecked passengers, but focuses primiarly on the unique role of Anne Harvey and the family dog, Hairy Man, in the rescue efforts.

Geoff Butler’s painted illustrations convey the tone of the verbal text. The paintings initially use a variety of browns, oranges, and yellows to create a dark and stormy landscape. As the story progresses, the colour of the landscape shifts, symbolizing the end of the storm and the safe recovery of the passengers of the Despatch. The sky and water are detailed with light blues and greens, creating a calming effect.


Anne wasted no time running back to the house. Her father was still asleep, but she shook him awake. “Papa, get up,” she said. “A ship has run aground.”
George Harvey bolted up. “Another one?”
He had seen many shipwrecks and knew of many lives lost. In fact, that was how the island got its name. Isle aux Morts means Island of the Dead.
“Go wake Thomas,” he said.