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Kidnap at Mystery Island by Carol Garden

Like other children of his generation, Dom has a special talent chosen by his parents at conception. He is a human chameleon - possessing the ability to blend into any surroundings and become almost invisible. Unfortunately his Anti-Ec father is a mining billionaire set on ignoring new planet-saving laws who kidnaps a young girl, Zoe.

Zoe is a mind-reader and her sisters, who also have remarkable talents, must outwit the ruthless mining billionaire.

Set in a time after the great global Environment Revolution of 2072, readers enter a high-tech world of eco criminals, artificial islands, global warming, rising seas, and patrolling coastal rangers.

Author Carol Garden, a journalist and communications manager, wrote the book during the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown, her first children's book. It went on to win the Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award 2021 for best novel by an unpublished author.

The accolade is well deserved. While the story's premise seems like a lot for younger readers to take on, Garden builds a fantastic, richly imagined world, using the beautiful islands of the Mercury Bay area as inspiration for the novel's setting.

Garden is sure to make it clear to younger readers that there is hope for our world. While many books that tackle climate change are set in a dystopian future, Kidnap at Mystery Island offers an alternative glimpse at what is possible if we work together.

There's wonderful, strong characters that will have children imagining what their own powers might be. It was refreshing to see girls take centre stage too, leading the rescue instead of being the rescued. We loved the character of Mia, who is incredibly smart, building technology for personal use and for security of their home compound. She breaks the stereotype of girls in tech and will appeal to young readers who share the same interests.

Kidnap at Mystery Island is an impressive fiction debut by Garden. An exciting, action-packed novel that will grip readers from the very first page.

Reviewed by Rebekah Lyell

Scholastic, RRP $18.99

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