Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Review: Midnight Messages is the third adventure for the trio, Elly, Tash and Sierra who are all currently based on Sunday Island during an idyllic summer. Elly is living with her aunt, following the death of her mother; Tash is a native, and Sierra is there whilst her father is writing about the history of the island.
The book begins with a sleepover in Tash's treehouse where she has brought some of the inventions of her late grandfather. One of which is a ghost detector...which happens to go off! A haunted treehouse and what are those lights flashing down in the graveyard? The girls creep down and though the lights disappear they hear otherworldly scratchings.
Adding to the spooky goings on is Elly's aunt's guest Celeste, a medium who insists they have a séance and Tash hears noises in her home's library. What is the source of all this ghostly activity?
The girls have to overcome many of their fears to investigate, including going into a tomb and scrabbling through claustrophobic tunnels and protecting the treehouse from an intruder.
Midnight Messages fits nicely into both summer reading and the 2013 theme for the Summer Reading Challenge which is Creepy House. Aimed at (around) nine year olds this series harks back to the adventures written by Enid Blyton where the children stay out all night and roam the island with no parental supervision and in this episode outwit the 'villain' by themselves - with help from Tash's dog Mojo. It's a bit scary in parts and a serious note is added briefly when Elly is unsettled by the thought of the séance as it's not such a game to her given her personal circumstances.
At 191 pages, Midnight Messages is slightly longer than the two previous entries, Charmed Summer and Whale Song. It also contains the first chapter of book four, Star Struck (out now), and some puzzles and a very yummy sounding recipe for French Toast!
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Review: Whale Song is the second in the Flip Flop Club series set on Sunday Island (which I think is probably off Cornwall) following on from Charmed Summer.
The local newspaper is offering a prize to whoever first photographs the Northern Bottlenose whale. So best friends Tash, Elly and Sierra want to win and get up super early to go out in Tash's dinghy, Mojo, taking Mojo the dog along too.
As they are nearing the Western Isles one of Sunday Island's notorious freak storms comes from nowhere and leaves the girls stranded on a small island with only the food and water they were carrying. Will they get rescued before the end of the day or will they have to camp (much to home-comforts-loving Sierra's disgust)?
Whilst the girls are waiting for rescue they're not idle and end up having some memorable experiences with some of the sea's residents and solving an old mystery regarding the disappearance of Sunday Island's most famous person.
Whale Song is action-packed and quite scary at the beginning as the girls wrestle with the huge waves. The girls (and Mojo) do wear life-jackets (see this post by Helen Moss!). They are very resourceful: constructing flags, a makeshift raft and fire (using the glass in a pair of binoculars).
As before, as well as the story (154 pages), there is the first chapter of the next book (Midnight Messages), quizzes and other activities, plus some facts about whales.
The next two books in the series come out in 2013: Midnight Messages (January) and Star Struck (May).
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Notes: Instead of a theme for the children's reading group meeting at the beginning of the summer holidays I selected a variety of new and summery reads. This one had been on my radar for a while because of its gorgeous cover so I was fortunate the library had it in stock in time.
Review: Charmed Summer is the first book in the Flip Flop Club series set on Sunday Island. Elly is sent to the Island to stay with her late-mother's sister for the summer holidays. Elly is bored and wants to go back to London until a mysterious note on her bed invites her to a secret meting at midnight. Unable to resist the challenge she sneaks out and along the way meets Sierra, who also has a note and finally they meet their inviter, Tash and her dog Mojo.
The girls form instant friendships and the summer on what the locals call Mystery Island promises to be a lot more exciting, especially when the girls find that they're connected by the past. A past with a present mystery to solve.
This is a charming opener to a series, which sets up the location and the three girls' histories and personalities. The mystery they have to solve revolves around friendships and trust but they have a lot of outdoor fun too with swimming, climbing and even a perilous trip on a home-made raft. The girls have a den too (!) and pass notes via the intelligent Mojo.
The Flip Flop Club series is aimed at girls (9+); two of the three main characters are outdoorsy and the third is a champion swimmer with a passion for fashion and a slight tendency to scream when frightened.
As well as Charmed Summer (177 pages) the book contains a sample from book two Whale Song, a quiz to see which character you're most like, a wordsearch, recipes and advice on jazzing up your flip-flops. There is a second quiz to give you a secret password to access additional material on the website.
Thematically similar is Helen Moss's Adventure Island series which is aimed at a slightly older readership than the Flip Flop Club series and has two boys (incomers) and a local girl (and her dog) as its lead characters.