Kiri, Jed, and twins Emma and Ethan have discovered an "elastic" island that can send them pinging across the South Pacific ocean to a variety of tropical island destinations. Their last destination got them into trouble, so this time the children are determined to have a relaxed and safe time when they visit Port Mugaloo on MugaMuga island.
However, Ethan falls into a pond and becomes invisible, and the only one who can help is King Shiny. Unfortunately, the King has gone missing while looking for the long-lost royal treasure, so they enlist the help of Mrs Quokka and travel across the desert into very dangerous territory to find him. But have the children made a mistake in trusting Mrs Quokka?
This is Book 2 of the Elastic Island fantasy action adventure series, and is suitable for readers aged 7-12.
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. It is wonderful to share the reading of a book so that the child can get clarification when a new word occurs or when there is a fresh idea to process, and then to see the child progress to reading it unaided second time around. I was hoping the same would happen with this new book, and sure enough, it did!
Having the same familiar characters was helpful because Miss Eight already knew their various quirks so could ease into the story straight away. She was sad that Rinaldo the parrot had been given the sack by Mr Jollybowler, but quickly warmed to his replacement, George, who was so proper he made her laugh. 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. However, the inhabitants of MugaMuga Island hold them in the highest regard. Her other talent is for making lemon cake which appears to be everyone's favourite food. Not only does the lemon cake recur throughout the book, there is even a recipe at the end - and, of course, Miss Eight had to try it as soon as we had reached the last page. The recipe made a fairly big cake so there was plenty for the whole family to try, and enough left over for the children's school play-lunch for several days more.
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. She used to have a cat so knew all about furballs being coughed up, so she wanted to know if the Blong-A-Gram would be sticky and need cleaning off before anyone handled it! Just like George, Blong the Cat uses formal speech and is condescending to lesser beings (like humans).
There was a moment of confusion when Miss Eight thought that Mr Quokka had joined the group when King Shiny was rescued from his chains, but it turned out to be a misprint - it should have been Mrs Quokka! We were relieved when we realised that because we thought we had missed something and had to go back several pages to double check. But the hiccup was quickly forgotten when we read Mrs Quokka's funniest piece of logic - "Never look a gift horse up the bum!" because, like all children of Miss Eight's age (and younger) "bum" is a slightly naughty word guaranteed to cause hysterical laughter all round.
That the story has a happy-every-after ending is a given. As Miss Eight said, every child should have a copy of this book because you get to read the story and enjoy it, but then you get to make the cake as well. Now she cannot wait to read the third book in the series.
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