by Karen McMillan
Unwrapping a mysterious book-shaped package is always a delight and the moment my gaze touched upon the bright cover and wonderful illustrations I sensed I’d uncovered a gem. This is a standout book cover that entreats children to grab it off the shelf.
Physically, the book felt solid nestled in my palms and the front cover begged me to flip it open. Inside the book, styling, formatting, and text were professionally executed. The text is large enough to appear non-threatening to an emergent reader.
Jewel Lagoon may sound like a paradise but when the children are unexpectedly catapulted out of their ordinary lives they find themselves in mortal danger where they bounce from one dangerous situation to the next and are never quite sure who they can trust in this strange land. Some of the themes are dark (kidnapping, maiming, and murder) but they are handled with sensitivity.
The story is wildly creative and populated with an array of vibrant characters, including adaptations of animals many children will recognise. The four main characters: Kiri, Jed, and twins Emma, and Ethan, have distinct personalities and varying skill sets which help them navigate through the challenges they face on their adventure.
Children will identify with particular characters as they find common denominators with their own lives.
The story works as a stand-alone read and there’s plenty of scope for more tropical island adventures in this series.
Author: Karen McMillan
Publisher: Duckling Publishing