Children's Book of the Month: School Ship Tobermory

Book: School Ship Tobermory by Alexander McCall Smith; illustrated by Iain McIntosh Age Category 8-11 years

Imagine if your school wasn’t in an ordinary building, on an ordinary street, but on a ship that sailed all around the world!

Sound good?

That is exactly what school is like for twins Ben and Fee MacTavish who attend School Ship Tobermory.

Ben and Fee have grown up on their parents’ submarine, but there is still a lot to learn as we follow their first term at the school, from steering the ship to making new friends. Join the twins as they settle into their new school and try to uncover what is really going on aboard the mysterious neighbouring ship, the Albatross.

This entertaining story by Alexander McCall Smith is accompanied throughout by Iain McIntosh’s engaging illustrations. It should appeal to all children who enjoy going on adventures, and reading about them too!


Q&A with Alexander McCall Smith

What inspired you to write about such an unusual school?

I am a keen sailor and I enjoy being on the water. I would have loved to have gone to school on a school ship!

What was your favourite story as a child?

I very much enjoyed the William books and I was also very fond of Rudyard Kipling’s Rikki Tikki Tavi.

You’ve written a lot of books for adults. What is different or special about writing children’s books for you?

Writing children’s books is a bit different, but the basic idea is much the same. I think in children’s books one concentrates more on plot devices but that does not mean that one cannot spend time on character and place.

Do you have any more children’s books in the pipeline?

Yes, I have agreed to write three books in the Tobermory series in the first instance, and may well do more. I also write children’s books about the hero of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. The children’s version tells the story of Precious Ramotswe when she was a girl of eight.


We have 5 copies of School Ship Tobermory to be won! To be in with a chance of winning one, just answer this:

Name another book written by Alexander McCall Smith

Your answer could be an adult or children's book. Send your answer to Sarah Mallon at The competition closes on Friday 29 January at 5pm.

Entrants must reside in the UK.

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