Alphabet Resort is the fourth story in the Elastic Island Adventures series by Karen McMillan, a New Zealand author. Kiri, Jed and twins Emma and Ethan, and their three pets have discovered an elastic island which pings them to far-flung places for a series of adventures. In this story, that easily stands alone, they have been invited to the wedding of King Shiny and Princess Topaz. Their accommodation is the Alphabet Resort where each holiday house is named after a children’s author complete with information about them and their books. I think it’s great when children’s stories reference other authors and books as it will inspire wider reading. At the time the children are there, it is time to vote for a new ‘M’ author to replace Margaret Mahy, and a discussion of Peter Millett’s and Karen McMillan’s books follows.
It took a lot of pages for the action and drama to start in this story, which I feel is a weakness in the plot. The first 100 pages or so were filled with dialogue and discussion about the procedures and protocols of a wedding. Although this was informative, it may have been better served as part of the ‘action’. Two amusing asides were Ethan’s obsession with the mysteries of cube-shaped poo, and matchmaking an extremely shy Womba with Whitney.
Then Princess Topaz is kidnapped and the children help in the hunt to find her in time for her wedding. It’s made more difficult with a set of cryptic clues to decipher and that Princess Topaz has been rendered invisible.
The characters are amusing and quirky, especially Mrs Quokka with her mixed-up idioms known as Quokka logic.
Although a quick search revealed no teacher notes as such, this story does lend itself to discussions on Pasifika culture, particularly wedding protocols. Language enthusiasts will enjoy the mixed up idioms and budding scientists will be curious as to the mysteries and origins of cube-shaped poo (yes it is a thing). When the perpetrator is caught, there is justice and forgiveness making for a satisfying ending albeit with a hint of further adventures to come.
Title: Elastic Island Adventures Alphabet Resort
Author: Karen McMillan
Illustrator: Dmitry Chizhov
Publisher: Duckling Publishing
Date of Publication: April 2020
Advisory warnings: None
Reviewed by Nova Gibson, Librarian, Massey Primary School, Auckland
How are you recommending this book? Recommended
Opening Sentence: ‘I’m so excited we are going to a wedding!’ said Blong the Cat, stepping on to Elastic Island and then doing a boogie-woogie dance because he was so happy.
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