Jewel Lagoon is the first in an exciting new fantasy series, Elastic Island Adventures. Four children, Kiri, Jed, and twins Emma and Ethan, discover an "elastic" island that can send them pinging across the South Pacific Ocean to a variety of tropical island destinations. Landing at Jewel Lagoon on Trinity Island, the children quickly find themselves in trouble.
But even with help from the colourful creatures they meet - Pangali the Platypus, Big Wig and Wee Wig Knockulous, and Olaf the Giant, it is still unclear as to whether they will be able to return home safely.
Suitable for children aged 7-12.
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, an exotic destination, a group of children off on an amazing quest, "goodies" and "baddies", and a big problem that only these children are able to fix.
We both enjoyed the various weird and wonderful animals, especially the Knockulous pair who were Miss Eight's firm favourites. It is a given in books like this that the animals can speak with humans; it is a simple progression from a family pet like a dog or cat that can communicate non-verbally (whilst making it very clear that it wants something like food or a game with its ball) to the creature that can take part in a spoken conversation. Children find this quite logical, and just accept the situation without questioning it.
Initially we got confused between the apes and the monkeys as we thought the names were being used interchangeably, but then realised there were groups of both. The monkeys were the small to medium ones while the apes were much bigger and much more intelligent. Once we had established that, the story flowed without problems. Whereas the apes and monkeys were aligned with the villains, the Platypus (Pangali), the Giant (Olaf) and the Knockulous (Big Wig and Wee Wig) were on the side of the children as they sought to defeat the wicked Chief Namba and restore the magical Princess Makana to her rightful throne.
The introduction of the bullies in the very first chapter intrigued Miss Eight. Like all children, she is familiar with bullies and was relieved that the friends managed to escape them. Bullying is never acceptable; it is important that children can deal with bullies in an appropriate manner, and know how to elicit help when necessary. In this case, the solution lay with a newcomer named Jed, a boy who was confident in his ability to stand up to bullies and proved himself more than a match for them. Of course, this also served as his introduction to the twins and their friend Kiri, and established him as the fourth member of the group of friends.
We enjoyed the indirect references to the location of the island. While Browns Bay is a real place in the "Land of the Long White Cloud" (Aotearoa New Zealand), Trinity Island is an imaginary place which draws its inspiration from various Pacific islands. Miss Eight and I had fun trying to work out where it might be, but she sensibly decided that it might not be on the regular tourist routes so maybe nobody from overseas has visited it yet. She wondered if we might be able to go on a voyage one day to discover it for ourselves!
Wherever the location of Trinity Island might be, I thoroughly enjoyed the yarn along with Miss Eight. 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. It is also good to see local place-names mentioned. I will never again visit Browns Bay without looking for the elastic island!
Random listing from 'Books'...
All trademarks, images and copyrights on this site are owned by their respective companies.
KIWIreviews is an independent entity, part of the Knock Out News Group. This is a free public forum presenting user opinions on selected products, and as such the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the opinion of kiwireviews.nz and are protected under New Zealand law by the "Honest Opinion" clause of the Defamation Act of 1992. KIWIreviews accepts no liability for statements made on this site, on the premise that they have been submitted as the true and honest opinions of the individual posters. In most cases, prices and dates stated are approximate and should be considered as only guidelines.
"If corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable oil is made from vegetables, then what is baby oil made from?"