Elastic Island Adventures Reviews
Elastic Island Adventures: Jewel Lagoon
'A fast-paced, original story aimed at readers eight to 12.' North & South Magazine
'The book is aimed at younger independent readers, aged between eight and 12-years-old, it's an action packed and fast paced read. McMillan has pitched to the age perfectly, making it easy but not simple or boring for younger readers. Rich language, especially adverbs, will also help inspire and delight those tackling the book on their own. However, it is a wonderful read aloud story as well, with plenty of voice and delightful characters to animate, expanding the audience further. Jewel Lagoon will inspire the next generation of Kiwi writers, while also appealing to those readers who start to lose momentum around that age, the so called 'reluctant' reader. It's a fast paced, exciting, and original story that keeps you entertained from the beginning to the very end.' NZ Booklovers
'An enjoyable and entertaining runaway adventure for children with a cast of colourful characters, including four children transported by an elastic island to a kingdom in trouble. I was hooked from the beginning.' Terry Toner, Radio Southland.
'The story is wildly creative and populated with an array of vibrant characters, including adaptations of animals many children will recognise. The four main characters: Kiri, Jed, and twins Emma, and Ethan, have distinct personalities and varying skill sets which help them navigate through the challenges they face on their adventure. Children will identify with particular characters as they find common denominators with their own lives.' Flaxflower
'I was hooked into this book from the very start - Miss Eight and I read it together and talked about it as we finished each chapter, something she loves doing. It is about the right level for her; the text is well constructed but not too difficult for a reader her age. And the story has all the elements that appeal to children with a sense of adventure: an island that doubles as a new means of transport, a group of children off on an amazing quest, "goodies" and "baddies", and a big problem that only these children are able to fix. McMillan writes well; the story is exciting, fast moving, and extremely well crafted. It is refreshing to read a new book in the fantasy genre, and we both look forward to reading the second book in the series.' Kiwi Reviews.
Elastic Island Adventures: Port Mugaloo
'From Karen McMillan comes Port Mugaloo, the second in her Elastic Island Adventure series aimed at kids aged 8-12. Her stories about four children going off on holiday on their own and having adventures are reminiscent of the Famous Five but these are more fantastical and told with a quirky sense of humour.' Grownups.co.nz
'This second book, aimed at readers between eight and 12-years-old, is as fast-paced as its predecessor Jewel Lagoon. McMillan has paid great attention to continuity so both stories flow together seamlessly. She once again perfectly pitches the story at her audience. It is a great book for those who are newly independent readers. McMillan draws on the familiar to make sure those readers feel competent and confident. With deeper themes about friendship, working together, positivity and perseverance, it could also spark some nice conversations with your younger readers.' NZ Booklovers
'Miss Eight was all but bouncing off the walls with excitement when she learned that I had the second Elastic Island Adventures book for her to review with me. She had loved the first book; since we read it together, she has read it a second time on her own. Having the same familiar characters was helpful because Miss Eight already knew their various quirks so could ease into the story straight away. By the time the children arrived on MugaMuga Island, she was completely immersed in the story and ready for plenty of action and fun. She was especially intrigued by the inclusion of Unputdownable Book of Mugaloo, which had chosen Emma to be its guardian. Miss Eight rather fancied herself as its guardian instead of Emma!
Quokka logic plays an important part in the story - the name derives from Mrs Quokka's penchant for sharing pithy sayings, some of which are funny while others are completely meaningless. Mrs Quokka is their guide on the quest to find King Shiny, who has gone missing. Miss Eight was entertained by the antics of her two offspring. Because Mrs Quokka is a marsupial, they live in her pouch and pop up every now and then. The baby Joey, who occasionally emerges with his orange rattle, is cute - but the addition of his older brother, Jase, who is the epitome of a sulky teenager and leaps out of the pouch wearing his headphones and does his best to avoid any chores, is a stroke of genius. I found I was laughing along with Miss Eight every time he grumbled about being told to do something. The other thing that made Miss Eight laugh was the idea of a Blong-A-Gram.' Kiwi Reviews
‘This is a very funny book and the characters are well drawn – children will enjoy this book and others in the series. We look forward eagerly to next year’s new adventures.’ Radio Southland
Elastic Island Adventures: Rainbow Cove
'Four children ride the Elastic Island service to Rainbow Cove, where they meet the naughty frivals, who have gone on strike from painting the island, so everything is fading to grey. Now the chameleons could die. Can the children save them? The third in the imaginative Elastic Island series.' Australian Women's Weekly
'Aimed at children between eight and 12, the third in the Elastic Island Adventures series is an action-packed story bursting with creativity. ' North & South Magazine
'It might seem weird to find a parenting hero in a chameleon, but the lizard family were my real favourites in this story. Charlotte the mother chameleon is feisty, determined and isn’t afraid to exert her motherly power. She is full of wisdom and offers up plenty of great pearls of wisdom for readers. Her view that “life is dangerous...but we still have to live it” was a particular favourite that was particularly apt in this story. Once again, the latest in the Elastic Island Adventures impresses.' NZ Booklovers
'Kiri, Jed, and twins Emma, and Ethan, are now seasoned Elastic Island travellers. Children are likely to identify themselves with one or more of the main characters’ diverse personalities or with their hobbies as their interests vary from sports, books, music and technology. Once they arrive on the island it doesn’t take our four adventurers long to figure out there’s something amiss at Rainbow Cove. Together with new friends they meet along their journey they investigate the latest mystery. I particularly enjoyed experiencing Rainbow Cove filtered through the fun perspective of Blong the Cat – a most delightful character.' www.flaxflower.co.nz
'This is the third in a children’s fantasy adventure series by popular New Zealand author Karen McMillan. I thought this highly inventive story which Karen has again told with her quirky sense of humour would be a jolly good read for children 8 years and up.' Grownups.co.nz
'Miss Eight and I are hooked on the books in this series. As with the previous Elastic Island stories, this one features an innovative plot line. What both of us find really draws us in is the imaginative situations and the novel ways in which the children deal with challenges. Many children's stories are rehashing of older tales and as such can be predictable (and therefore guaranteed to make an avid reader quickly lose interest). McMillan has the knack of being able to present fresh perspectives on basically familiar concepts so that reader interest is sustained. At the same time, fantasy and reality combine seamlessly so that the old ideas of sibling rivalry and real places (like Browns Bay) make the reader feel grounded. There were little learning opportunities scattered throughout as well. Miss Eight quickly decoded the island name (Roy-G-Biv) as being an acronym for the seven colours of the rainbow. She loves doing all kinds of art so was very excited at the idea of the frivals having an entire shed full of paint supplies - her idea of heaven! She wondered if the island might really exist somewhere in the Pacific - and if so, maybe we could take a trip there at some stage.' Kiwi Reviews
Elastic Island Adventures: Alphabet Resort
NZ Herald pick for one of the best children's books for 2020!
'Near the beginning of the book is a list of the 26 authors who have given their names to the various buildings in Alphabet Resort. I was amazed at how intrigued Miss Eight was by the listing. I had thought she would skim over those two pages after reading the first two entries, but I had to read the entire list to her so she could comment on each entry. She was familiar with around 50% of the authors, a lot more than I had expected. Of course, some of them were not "real" authors but that did not matter to her. She loved the whole idea and said she hoped one day someone would name something after her too! 10/10' Kiwi Reviews
'This is a delightful and entertaining book for 7 to 11 year olds with well drawn characters moving along at an agreeable pace and extending their imagination into a healthy, imaginary fantasy world.' Flaxflower reviews
'Like the other books in this series this new Elastic Island Adventure story is well told with Karen McMillan’s usual quirky sense of humour and would be a jolly good read for 6-12-year olds.' Grownups.co.nz
'In this story, that easily stands alone, they have been invited to the wedding of King Shiny and Princess Topaz. Their accommodation is the Alphabet Resort where each holiday house is named after a children’s author complete with information about them and their books. I think it’s great when children’s stories reference other authors and books as it will inspire wider reading. Then Princess Topaz is kidnapped and the children help in the hunt to find her in time for her wedding. It’s made more difficult with a set of cryptic clues to decipher and that Princess Topaz has been rendered invisible. The characters are amusing and quirky, especially Mrs Quokka with her mixed-up idioms known as Quokka logic. RECOMMENDED.' Read NZ Te Pou Muramura
'Alphabet Resort sticks with the lovable cast of characters readers know and love from its predecessors. The four young children in the story are well defined and likable, each with their own quirks and strengths. The relationships and interactions between the four characters - and indeed with the minor characters - are realistic and perfectly pitched for the intended audience of children aged between eight and 12 years. Fans of Blong the cat and Mrs Quokka will be pleased to know both characters appear in this story, and are fabulous as usual - with a great setup for one of them in the fifth book hinted at within the pages of Alphabet Resort. Alphabet Resort takes readers on an exciting and creative journey. With a cast of quirky characters and plenty of action, it makes for a great read.' NZ Booklovers
'Alphabet Resort is the fourth book in the Elastic Adventure series. Kiri, Jed and the twins Emma and Ethan have been invited to a wedding. They don their backpacks, packed with their good clothes and snacks, ready for the trip to Alphabet Resort. Along the way they meet Wombo the Wombat who needs their help to find a partner. It gets complicated when bride Princess Topaz is kidnapped. Will they find her in time for the wedding? Will they find a match for Wombo? And will the wedding still go ahead? For children 8-12 years old who like adventure stories. The story has themes of friendship, helping friends in need, and bravery.' Kidsbooksnz Blog
Elastic Island Adventures: Kingdom of Blong
'As in many children’s fantasy adventure books the central theme in Elastic Island Adventures. Kingdom of Blong is the battle between good and evil. It is an action-packed thrilling read. But interspersed between the scary parts are lighthearted moments. There is love in the air between two of the bilbies. I think that will make it a much more enjoyable read, especially for younger readers. While tweenies who are undergoing their own emotional changes will be able to guess what is behind Kiri’s emotional outbursts and her awkward relationship with Jed.
I so admire Karen McMillan’s inventiveness. For the Kingdom of Blong she has again created a cast of fascinating anthropomorphic creatures. Some are purely imaginary like the bilbies. But the sagacious Heathcliff is based on her husband Iain’s real-life pet.
She has made the cat’s palace into a wondrous place. And to extend young readers’ literary knowledge has playfully inserted plaques all over its walls with feline quotes from famous authors including Charles Dickens and Ernest Hemingway.
As a grandparent I heartily recommend this book aimed at 7–12-year-olds. Giving children a good book to read is such a positive way to persuade them to put away their electronic devices for a while. And the adventurous four who are courageous enough to stand up for the weak are great role models.' NZ Booklovers
'Miss Nine is a consummate fan of the Elastic Island adventures, and was overjoyed to find she was to review the latest in the series with me. The four children and their cat Blong have become almost like members of the family; she speaks of them as if she knows them personally!
High adventure rules in this story. There is a kidnapping, treason, a mystery to be solved, warfare (between cats and bilbies), and plenty of magic. It is real escapist stuff, but with links to the real world through local places (Browns Bay and the Pacific Ocean). There is also the inevitable teasing that goes on within a group when the members all know one another well. Miss Nine loved this; she said the best part of arguments within a family or small friendship group is being able to give one another a hard time while being aware that at the end of the day you are still all there to support one another. Even if your name is Kiri or Ethan! 10/10.' Kiwi Reviews
Karen McMillan returns with another fast-paced, original for readers 8-12 years old. Action-packed, fast-paced, full of magic and adventure and quirky ideas, Kingdom of Blong is the next fabulous installment in her Elastic Island series. This book will appeal to long term readers and those more 'reluctant' types. The Grove Book Report
'This series is a lot of fun, easy to read and brings up problems that we humans have in our own society. Reluctant readers will have no problem with these stories.' bobsbooksnz
‘This story is another winner from Karen McMillan. Previous books in the series have been very popular with their audience. With Blong being the lead character in this adventure it will no doubt continue the success of this series.' Terry Toner, Radio Southland
'I have read the other four books in the Elastic Island Adventure series and was excited to be able to read this one. I am a 10-year-old boy who loves reading and read this in two days as the story kept me so interested I didn't want to put it down.
I love the characters as they always find dangerous adventures that have a theme of good versus evil. Kiri, Jed, Emma and Ethan are all different and have varying strengths that they bring to the story. They are a team of best friends and I can imagine some of their adventures being ones that me and my mates would get up to. This story fluctuates between lots of action and adventures.
The story has so much going on and the words make me imagine that I am there alongside them all experiencing this adventure. I am sure you will love it as much as I did and I will be sure to read it again. 10/10’ Nikki, Kiwi Reviews
'About a third of the way through I realised I was not reading purely to critically review, but was thoroughly enjoying the story and wanted to see what would unfold next.
As I reached for my dictionary I acknowledged that this certainly wasn't the easy-read I anticipated. Is 'bumfuzzle' actually a real word? And what about 'cattywampus' and 'bumbershoot'? I also learned that the name for a cluster of cats is a clowder. That's not to say that this is a difficult book to read, it is certainly not! It has a fabulous balance of everyday words, with some sophisticated vocabulary (such as imperative, perplexed, dejectedly and procrastinating) sprinkled throughout to hold the interest of those who are genuinely fascinated by language.
The action and adventure will appeal to many readers, and cat-lovers will enjoy it immensely. For those who like a little fantasy, there are cats who can moonwalk, talk, sing and perform gymnastic moves. Cats aren't the only animals to feature or have fun and the children experience plenty of action too. Highly recommended.' Read NZ
Blong the Cat's Costume Caper
'The story is great and it doubles as a counting book. Count the shoes at the bottom of each outfit. I thought it was funny and a good read-a-loud for juniors. The illustrations are fitting especially the eyes.' bobsbooksnz
'Blong the Cat’s Costume Caper has the cutest illustrations, but it’s also a heart-warming story that has lovely messages about being kind and considerate to others. And I love that it has all these different dances and costumes - and also a counting element too!' NZ Booklovers
'This is the first stand-alone book about Blong the cat. It will appeal especially to those who have met him before in one of Karen McMillan’s popular Elastic Island Adventures series and to young children who love cats. They will enjoy the brightly coloured illustrations of the loveable Blong dressed up in a series of costumes.' Grownups.co.nz
'Miss Two was completely engrossed in the story, dancing along with Blong with great enthusiasm and pointing out various items of clothing like the bow tie, the flowers on the lei, the banana suit and the pirate hat.' Kiwi Reviews
'A nice lesson for kids on not hurting others with thoughtless comments. Lively illustrations and a wide range of adjectives will make this a joy to read aloud to kids.' Horowhenua Chronicle
'What I liked best about Elastic Island Adventures was how they can travel across the South Pacific and land in magical lands and meet lots of magical creatures along the way to save Jewel Lagoon.' Max
'I really liked the character Emma because I see myself a lot like her in having a love of books. She also seems like a very inspirational and compassionate person/character.' Grace
‘'My favourite character in Jewel Lagoon is Jed because he stood up to the bullies at the start of the book.’ Willow
‘My favourite character from Jewel lagoon is Mr Jollybower because he just seems like he is one of those people you love to hang out with.’ Lexie
'I like Emma because just like me she likes to read. I also like Ethan because he is funny and likes to build knew things and thinks outside the box! In elastic island I honestly enjoy everything Karen McMillan!' Emily
My favourite character is Big Wig Knockulous because of how smart he is and how good he is at tracking and directing the children towards different places. I like the way you described what he looks like with his red hair, colour changing wings and his cute bow tie.' Tiger
'You are probably my favourite author that writes fiction books. Bye Elastic Island GO! GO! GO!' Elsa
'I like Ethan because he is smart and sciency has loads of cool gadjets in this bag.' Tom
'Kiri is my favourite because she loves singing as much as I do and she just has a great personality like me! (by the way your books are soooo good written Karen)' Hannah
''My favourite character is Jed because he was the one who lead everyone to safety in Jewel Lagoon.' Milla
''I like Kiri the best. She is brave and is pretty much a warrior. She stands up for what she believes in.' Clara
'My favourite character is Kiri because she is brave and strong whenever her friends need help she trys her best to save them. I love it how she always figers out a way to solve a problem. By the way I think she looks dashing in her red t-shirt.' Tilly
‘I really enjoyed Port Mugaloo. I loved the children’s adventures, and didn’t want to stop reading! My favourite characters were Blong the Cat, (his Blong-a-grams were very funny), and Mrs Quokka. I will get Mum to make the Quokka Lemon Cake.’ Cole
'My favourite character is Blong the Cat because he is cute and he is your cat in real life. I like how you added him in the story.' Poppy
'Emma is my favourite because she has amazing survival skills and I also think she is very smart and co-operative.' Kayleigh
'We love the characters Ethan and Jed best because they go on such great adventures. They are daring characters and Ethan can become invisible which is something we would love to be able to do, except not by falling down a cliff and landing in a pond.' Olliver and Austin
'I like Mrs Quokka because she is very funny with her quirky quotes. I also like her small cute handbag. I also, like how she’s sassy and feisty and it is so cute for a little quokka to be like that!' Rinka
'I like Blong the Cat because he is cute like our cat Ziggy, but Ziggy only has 3 legs and Blong has 4 legs and beautiful big green eyes.' Coco
'Emma adopted Blong the Cat and her book was all about the island, so my favourite character is Emma.' Teagan
‘My favourite character from Port Mugaloo was Mrs Quokka. I loved her quirky quotes and her tenacious bravery. Her sons Joey and Jase create a sense of fun and we are amazed at the contents of her pocket. She believes in the goodness in the hearts of scary characters like Chief Montegrow and Salmon the Dragon. Great story!’ Corrine
‘I love Emma the best. She likes school like me, and she has a lovely character and is a positive girl.’ Yuju
My favourite character from Rainbow Cove is Blong. He is really cute and funny. I like it when he does his dancing and coughs up his Blong -A -Grams.' Milla
'Kiri is my personal favourite character not only because she’s just like me but she fights for what she thinks is right.' Isla
‘My favourite character is probably Emma, because she reminds me of myself. She’s emotive, bookish and dreamy, which are traits that I really like in characters.’ Gabrielle
‘Kiri is my favourite because she is fun and active and just like me. I have brown hair love to sing just like her. And she is funny just like me you can ask my friends It would be amazing to be her going to different Islands and her name is so creative she is amazing just like you.’ Amy
‘My favourite character is Emma because she is a lot like me and loves books. She is also smart and is just an amazing character.’ Eva
‘I love Quokkas because they are absolutely adorable and being the happiest animal in the world it makes me feel so happy and comfortable around them. Mrs. Quokka is definitely my favourite character 🤩’ Olivia
‘Jed is the best because i like sports and its fun.’ Ryder
‘I like Kiri because she is kind, fun and loves singing like me and seems like a very nice person to meet.’ Lily
‘Emma is my favourite because she likes books like me and the frivals because they are funny and cheeky.’ Siena
‘Kiri is my favourite because she is adventurous and really fun and she has great ideas.’ Makayla
‘I like Kiri, because she is energetic and is full of adventure and is confident.’ Chloe
‘Kiri is my favourite because she is really kind and thoughtful. She is always there people and helping them. And her personality is just the same as mine!’ Kiara
‘Hi Karen l am now at page 49 on alphabet resort and its one of my favorite books thanks for writing books.’ Sophie
‘Kiri is my favourite! Because she sings and is a fun and Adventureist character and im a really good singer too!’ Aria
‘I like Ethan because he has a twin sister and like science and technology also its very funny how he had an alarm clock in his bag in the first book. He carries a lot of random things in his bag that's why I like the character Ethan.’ Grace
‘I like all of the characters! Emma, Kiri, Jed and Ethan. I've already read all four of these wonderful books and I'm excited to start... KINGDOM OF BLONG! I love all the exciting adventures they have. If I really HAD to choose a favourite character it might be Kiri because she's very athletic and brave ( a bit like me.)’ Tilly
‘I like Kiri because she’s really outgoing and loves singing just like me!! But also the cat is really cute!!’ Zoe
‘We love Emma. As a mum I love that she enjoys reading and school. I am really happy reading this kind of book to my children as it allows them to see the benefits of such things. My daughter Harriet also has twin siblings so this is right up her alley!’ Emily and Harriet
‘I love how in book 4 you brought back the old characters.’ Clara
'I like Emma the best because she is always kind.' Sophie
‘I like jed because he is sporty and fit like me.’ Oli
'My favourite character is the belly monster. Because he seems funny and likes to go on adventures. And eat/try new things that get in his way.’ Emily
'My favourite character is Blong because he is a special cat and does BLONG-A-GRAMS and I like reading them. I have read all the books so far and I really love them.’ Abigail
'I like king shiny because he is a good man and is a good ruler and kind. I also like the frivals because they are so graceful and a little naughty especially Flynn the frival.’ Minu
'I really like Blong the Cat because he is funny and playful and he can spit out Blong-a-grams.' Kaelan.
‘I like Jed because he's sporty like me and because he's cool and I love your books great ideas and you went to my school.' Hemi
'Emma is my favourite character because she is shy but loves to share ideas and although she doesn't mean to she still makes me laugh.' Eva
'I love Blong because of his blong-a-grams and his enthusiastic appearance.(And I love cats).' Abigail
'I like Emma because she looks pretty and loves reading books just like me. She always tries to solve problems like in book four. When either Kiri or Ethan say something mean to each other then Emma always tries to change the subject.' Miriam
'My favourite character is blong the cat and the twins, blong the cat is very funny, whitty, very sweet. The twins- emma and ethan- awesome, funny, caring, relatable, cheeky. thank you so much for the books.' Bryce
'I like Jed, because of his caring nature and how he looks out for others.' Cole
‘I really like Kiri, because she sings and I like how she shows her culture through her singing.’ Kenedy
‘I think Jed is cool, because he is smart, athletic, brave and because he is the best character no arguments.’ Tyler
‘I love Blong, because he always caughs up the funny blong-a-gram.’ Grace
‘Jed is my favourite because he is always so brave and keen to go on an adventure.’ Dawid
‘Mr Jollybower is the best as he helped the kids from danger.’ Joshua