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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Interview: Karen McMillan talks about Elastic Island Adventures: Flip Flop Bay

Karen McMillan is the author of 19 books published in nine countries, and her latest book Elastic Island Adventures: Flip Flop Bay is out now, part of the popular action adventures series for children aged 8 to 12. Karen talks to NZ Booklovers.

Can you tell us about the premise of the series, Elastic Island Adventures?

Four kiwi children discover an ‘elastic’ island that can send them pinging across the ocean to various tropical destinations. In each story, Kiri, Jed and twins Emma and Ethan must work together to get out of trouble, or to help the local inhabitants, before they return home. They are fun stories with plenty of quirky humour, but at their heart they are all about friendship, building resilience and being true to oneself. They are also about literacy and creativity, as the books encourage reading and children to explore the ‘theatre of the mind.’

Tell us a little about Flip Flop Bay.

The children decide to go to Flip Flop Bay as they have heard there is a flying school, run by Bob the Blue-Footed Booby. But when they get there, they discover this means dressing in weird costumes and launching themselves off the end of the wharf – it’s not a flying school at all! It’s just the latest silly idea in a series of doomed ventures from Bob the Blue-Footed Booby, who is trying to save their small fishing village from closure. The children want to come up with a good idea to save the island, but then the Dastardly Captain Crook turns up and kidnaps Blong the Cat, so they have to work together to somehow save Blong.

What did you enjoy about writing this book?

Everything! The four children have wonderful personalities. Kiri is headstrong and loves swimming and singing. Emma is a quiet and kind book champion. Jed is sporty and nice, while Ethan loves science and inventing things. Blong the Cat is a popular character with children – he is very sweet and enthusiastic about life – he loves to dance and does something called a ‘Blong-a-gram’. He’s joined by Heathcliff the Dog, who is a wise philosopher. In this story, Bob the Blue-Footed Booby provides a lot of comic moments, partly because he is obsessed by his pretty blue feet. Add in a food fight with ice cream, some pirates that are not quite what they seem, and a nifty sword fight, there is lots of fun to be had in this new book.

This is the sixth book in the series, do they need to be read in order?

If you do read them in order, you will notice the character’s developing, but you don’t have to read them in order – each story is a standalone read. Read Jewel Lagoon if you like lots of danger and action-adventure. Like the idea of becoming invisible? Read Port Mugaloo. If you love art and colour, read Rainbow Cove. Prefer a bit of romance and like the idea of going to a wedding? Alphabet Resort is the book for you. Love cats? Well, there is an entire kingdom of them in Kingdom of Blong. Like the idea of flying or being a pirate? Then you will enjoy Flip Flop Bay. And for younger brothers and sisters, they will enjoy Blong the Cat’s Costume Caper. There are costumes and dancing and also a counting element.

There is an audio book of Flip Flop Bay as well, can you tell us a little about this?

The incredible Suzy Cato narrates the audiobook! She has done an amazing job, and it was so much fun having her bring her skills to making the audiobook come to life. You can get the audiobook from all the places listed below. It’s great you can get the paperback book, and also the audiobook!

There is also a recipe in the book, can you tell us about that?

Chef Sam Mannering has very kindly let us reproduce his Hasselback Potato recipe, in the book renamed Flip Flop Bay Potatoes. This comes about as Bob the Blue-Footed Bobby is a fantastic cook, and rocks in the kitchen!

If a soundtrack was made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include.

In the book, Kiri sings ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ which sums up the fun vibe of the book.

What did you do to celebrate finishing this book?

Usually we would have a book launch, but this year we are launching the book on social media, so keep an eye out on Suzy Cato’s channels to join in the fun!

What’s next on the agenda for you?

There is another picture book with the adorable Blong the Cat in the pipeline, and also another book featuring the naughty frivals. I’m also writing a book for adults, my latest historical novel.

Audiobook links:


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