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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Elastic Island Adventures: Rainbow Cove by Karen McMillan

The third book in the Elastic Island Adventures series, Kiri, Jed, and twins Emma and Ethan, are back for another bizarre holiday. The children discovered an elastic island, that sends them pinging across the South Pacific to a variety of unusual destinations. This time around they’re off to Rainbow Cove, where they meet creatures called frivals who are responsible for maintaining the colours of the island.

But, the frivals are on strike after the locals didn’t like them changing the colours around. Now the island is slowly fading to grey and the island’s other inhabitants – chameleons – are at risk of dying. Can the children find the frival’s missing leader and save the island?

The third book in the series feels much more confident and assured. Author Karen McMillan still writes with a cracking pace, but this story feels more thought-out and rounded.

Instead of trying to cram as much action in as possible, each part of the story is allowed to develop. As such the characters, especially the children, have much more defined personalities, traits and characteristics.

Each of the children has their own distinct strengths and weaknesses, and it’s nice to see characters break free of stereotypes. In particular Emma, who is a book worm but isn’t made out to be a nerd or loner. Her bookish ways are appreciated by the others, and useful when the children find themselves in a predicament. Readers will find a character that they see a little bit of themselves in.

The frivals are funny characters, and McMillan offers up just enough information to allow the reader to conjure them up in their mind. It’s books like these, full of imaginary creatures and aspects, that give our younger readers to be adventurous in their own writing and storytelling. All too quickly our children are encouraged to ‘grow up’ and the spark of creativity is so quickly extinguished. Rainbow Cove offers a great antidote to this, and sets an example of the power of imagination.

A particularly nice touch included in the book is the specifications of the elastic island. Detailing speed, propellant mass and the engine, this special sheet included at the back of the book will also inspire readers. I can see many budding engineers, mechanics and scientists designing their own machines, based on this.

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. Aimed at children between eight and 12, it is a fast-paced, action packed story bursting with imagination and creativity. This age range is often overlooked by writers, but Rainbow Cove fills the gap perfectly.

Reviewer: Rebekah Fraser

Duckling Publishing, RRP $19.99

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