When I was six, I saw a news story on TV about Sable Island, an isolated isle off the coast of Nova Scotia (Canada), inhabited by hundreds of wild horses. Despite living in Northern Ontario at the time–also on an isolated, remote island—I dreamed I would go there one day.

It took me 44 years to make that dream come true because the island is very fragile and they usually only allow scientists on the island. But I never gave up and one day I heard about a group of artists that obtained permission to go to there and paint. I signed up immediately and in 2009 I got to spend a week on Sable Island.   

I fell in love with this magical island populated by hundreds of wild horses, tens of thousands of seals, and only six people. I was fascinated by the singing sand, the quicksand, and the ginormous sand dunes that wander across the island with the wind, burying anything in their paths like houses.

I learned about the shipwrecks, the pirates and how only one hardy tree out of 80,000 planted survived the island’s harsh environment; and how in 1959 ordinary schoolchildren with the help of their teachers started a letter-writing campaign that forced the Canadian government to pass a law protecting the Sable Island horses forever.

And when I returned home, I knew I had to share this fantastical place with kids—which fulfilled another dream of mine—to write a children’s book!