- May 2023
- ISBN: 9781761047244
- Imprint: Puffin
- RRP: $16.99
Soooooooo, take a little Jurassic Park, a pinch of Big Foot, a handful of Little Shop of Horrors, a smidgin of mad scientists, a scoop of Bass Strait Triangle [like the Bermuda one, but closer] and an actual drop bear, and stir vigorously with some George Ivanoff – and voila! the perfect, albeit a little crazy, adventure with which to tempt your reluctant readers especially.
Bernie’s mum has ruffled some academic feathers with her speculations on cryptids, so is exceedingly relieved to be offered a great new job opportunity as a paleontologist, although the secrecy surrounding specific details and location is a little unnerving. Bernie is worried about the lack of information, but realistically, he’s pretty peeved that he can’t accompany his mother and has to stay behind with his aunt. Unless of course…………yep, he stows away and when his mum lands on Monster Island, Bernie is literally only a few steps behind her. When he’s sprung by older, and much sassier, teen, Ivy, he thinks perhaps the jig is up. But Ivy is unusually placed to be both conciliatory and bossy, given her father is the director and wealthy owner of the whole research facility and more.
Monster Island is like an anachronism of both prehistoric times and speculative fiction with its wildly divergent and bizarre flora and fauna: dinosaurs with opposable thumbs, sentient fungi, and what appears to be a ferocious drop bear for starters. There are certainly huge problems when Ivy’s father discovers the presence of Bernie and his daughter’s extra-curricular activities on the island but these pale into insignificance when the security of the island and its wildlife is threatened by an unknown military-style operation, intent on poaching the unique animals.
While the adults try to rally some meaningful defenses, Ivy and Bernie take on the poachers and the rat in the pack of the research scientists, armed only with cattle prods and a friendly dinosaur known as Lea-Lea.
This is seriously wacky but seriously fun, and the fast-paced adventure will have great appeal. It’s not taking a stand as such but certainly readers will gain satisfaction from knowing that just being an adult does not consitute being always right, always smarter or always stronger, and they will love the possibilities of the crazy creatures. I foresee much potential with some imaginative artwork!
I love that George has included notes that provide information about some of the factual aspects of the narrative e.g. Bass Straight Triangle and cryptozoology (which in my experience is a field of great intrigue for kiddos).
Highly recommended for readers, especially those hard-to-please ones from around 8 years upwards.