Defrosting History

The Stowaways – The Story of the Boys on the Ice by John Donald – adapted by Ardgowan Primary School with artist Mhairi M Robertson and writer Paul Bristow

Magic Torch comics are doing amazing work with Scottish schools using comics to promote literacy.  You may have seen their brilliant history/comics mash-ups including the story of the Stone of Destiny heist in the style of Hergé and the Covenanters in the style of Days of Future Past.


They collaborate with local schools in Inverclyde to produce comics that reflect the history of the area and aim to stimulate interest in reading and creativity amongst the students. The Stowaways is one such collaboration, in this case with Ardgowan Primary School of John Donald’s 1928 book The Stowaways and Other Sea Sketches.

It tells the true story of a group of young children who stowed away on a ship bound for Canada. Discovered at sea they were harshly treated by the captain and first mate. After many privations they were put ashore to find shelter across an ice bound bay in Newfoundland. It is a tale of resilience and cruelty with justice coming too little, too late. Indeed it is quite a tough tale for primary school pupils, but maybe they are tougher than I think!

The book is beautifully illustrated by Mhairi M Robertson who also lettered the book and presented in a hardback whose cover featuring icy blues and greens will have you feeling chilly.

You can read more about the project on the BBC website here and view a PDF here. Read more about Magic Torch Comics

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