Flip Flop Bay
Flip Flop Bay is the sixth in the Elastic Island Adventures children’s book series for children aged 7 – 12, but note the books can be read as standalone in any order. Kiri, Jed, and twins Emma and Ethan discover an ‘elastic’ island that sends them pinging across the ocean to various destinations. Bob the Blue-Footed Booby is running a flying school, which sounded like fun until the children discover this means dressing in weird costumes and launching themselves off the end of the wharf. It’s the latest silly idea in a series of doomed ventures from Bob the Blue-Footed Booby, who is trying to save their small fishing village from closure. Can the children come up with an idea that will save the island and its kooky inhabitants? And what about the complication of the Dastardly Captain Crook?
Getting Set to Go to Flip Flop Bay
Emma touched the jewel pendant she always wore as she stepped on to Elastic Island – it was a special gift that made her feel calm. She hoped that their trip to Flip Flop Bay would be one of relaxing in the sun and enjoying her latest book. There had been far too much danger and adventure on their previous trips. She brushed her long blonde hair, which was swirling in the wind, out of her face and smoothed down her light blue sundress. Her cat Blong followed her on to the small sandy island, which had sixteen palm trees. Elastic Island was a unique way to travel across the ocean from Browns Bay, although it always made Emma and Blong feel nervous.
‘It’s a great day to travel!’ said Blong the Cat, but he seemed a little fearful as he looked around.
‘It’s an ace day to travel,’ said Jed, stepping on to Elastic Island after Emma and Blong.
Jed was juggling a ball back and forth and was wearing shorts and a T-shirt. He had a backpack with essential things like snacks and water, a change of clothes and sunscreen, and togs and towels for himself and his friend Kiri. Heathcliff, his dog, bounded on to the island with a cheerful woof and greeted Blong before sniffing around the palm trees.
‘Thanks for taking my stuff,’ said Kiri.
She followed Jed on to the island, her dark hair flying in the breeze. Like Jed, she was dressed in shorts and a T-shirt. She’d given up asking her grandparents for a replacement backpack after losing it on one of their adventures, so she was grateful Jed was able to take some things for her. She smiled at him warmly. He was an awesome friend. It wasn’t that long ago she’d fallen out with him, but thankfully they had patched things up.
Ethan was the last of their group to step on to the island, adjusting the straps of the old backpack that he always wore, his red hair shining in the sun. Never a follower of fashion, he was dressed in old-fashioned long trousers and a shirt.
‘I’m really looking forward to going to Flip Flop Bay,’ said Ethan. ‘They have this cool flying school.’
‘It sounds incredible!’ said Jed. ‘Imagine – we will be able to learn how to fly! I’ve always wanted to try that.’
‘I’m not so sure about the flying school,’ said Emma, her blue eyes wide with nervousness. ‘But I’m happy to be there as the support crew.’
‘Don’t worry, Em,’ said Kiri. ‘You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.’
Kiri played with the golden bracelet she always wore. It looked like a regular piece of jewellery, but it was actually a goldenite named Bracelet von Weila – a living creature with the ability to make illusions.
‘I’ve read the brochure carefully, front to back, and also back to front,’ said Ethan, adjusting the special glasses he had been given on their first adventure. They cleverly allowed him to see in front and behind at the same time. He was still trying to figure out scientifically how that was possible, but he thought it was nifty, nonetheless. ‘Flip Flop Bay sounds trouble-free. I’m sure we will have an enjoyable time in the sun.’
‘The sun shines, not just for the flowers, but for all of us to enjoy,’ said Heathcliff. ‘I am sure our trip will be one of happiness.’
‘I’ll be happy when we get going,’ said Jed, patting Heathcliff affectionately before looking at the special watch he wore, which had all the time zones for the islands that Elastic Island visited. ‘I wonder where Mr Jollybowler is.’
‘I hope we don’t have more problems with the twing and twang,’ said Ethan, remembering the rough landing of their previous trip.
‘I am pleased to report that the twing and twang are working perfectly,’ said Mr Jollybowler in a cheerful voice as he stepped out of a palm tree, closing the door behind him and then standing in front of the children. ‘We had a problem with the twang recently, but it’s all been fixed.’
Ethan did a double take, like he always did, as Mr Jollybowler was much larger than the palm tree he had just stepped out of. It was a fascinating sight, but Ethan just couldn’t figure out the mechanics behind what he was seeing. Mr Jollybowler wore shorts, a floral shirt and a large bowler top hat. He had a pink and white parrot perched on his shoulder, who looked at the children with interest.
‘Welcome again to Elastic Island,’ said Mr Jollybowler. ‘It’s a pleasure to have you on our luxury service to islands in the South Pacific. Allow me to introduce you to Gracie the Galah.’
Gracie the Galah did an impressive spin on Mr Jollybowler’s shoulder and then peered at the children with a friendly expression.
‘Whee-up, whee-up and hello, lovely children,’ said Gracie. ‘Oh, and cute cat, and impressive dog. It is wonderful to have you on our Elastic Island service today.’
‘It’s awesome to be here,’ said Kiri.
‘What happened to your last parrot?’ asked Ethan, turning to Mr Jollybowler. ‘I think that every time we travel, you have a different one!’
Mr Jollybowler shrugged his shoulders. ‘Mackie the Blue and Gold Macaw?’
‘Well, you will remember he loved spelling,’ said Mr Jollybowler. ‘Mackie was headhunted by an International Spelling Bee Competition to be their Master of Ceremonies. He loves his new role!’
‘That’s great news,’ said Emma. ‘He’ll be excellent in that job.’
‘Who would have thought being good at spelling would be so, um … cool,’ said Kiri, sounding confused.
‘We have had a new improvement since you last used our service,’ said Mr Jollybowler.
Gracie the Galah nodded enthusiastically as Mr Jollybowler pressed his hand on a section of the closest palm tree. A panel flipped open, revealing a shelf of ice cream cones and saucers below a row of taps.
‘You have ice cream?’ said Jed enthusiastically.
Mr Jollybowler nodded. ‘Gracie has been helping me create a range of signature Elastic Island ice creams for everyone travelling with us. It turns out she has a real flair for making ice cream. Would you like to try some of the flavours?’
‘You bet!’ said Jed, stepping forward eagerly, his ball resting under his arm.
Gracie the Galah looked at Jed carefully, tilting her head to one side, before turning to Mr Jollybowler. ‘I think Jed will like flavour number three.’
Mr Jollybowler picked up a cone and then turned the tap on, so ice cream poured into the cone, before turning it off again. He handed it to Jed, who tasted it and then began eating it with gusto, talking with his mouth full.
‘Wow, this is the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted!’ Jed cried. ‘It tastes just like a peanut butter and jam sandwich, which is my all-time favourite food!’
‘Just as well it’s not mushroom ice cream,’ said Ethan. ‘Jed would have had something vastly different to say if that was the case!’
‘Mushroom ice cream?’ said Gracie the Galah, sounding perplexed.
‘Jed has fungophobia,’ said Ethan importantly. ‘He has a fear of mushrooms.’
‘Well, rest assured, I have no intention of making mushroom ice cream,’ said Gracie, flapping her wings. ‘I can’t think of anything more, um … unsuitable.’ She tipped her head to one side and looked at Ethan intently. ‘Now, I think you will like selection number four.’
The other children, Blong and Heathcliff gathered around. Gracie selected a different flavour for each of them. The other children were soon happily eating ice cream in cones, while Blong and Heathcliff ate ice cream from plates.
‘This tastes like bubble gum and sherbet,’ said Kiri happily. ‘It’s awesome, the best ice cream ever!’ ‘Mine is coconut and lime,’ said Emma. ‘It’s like tasting tropical paradise.’
‘This ice cream tastes just like a pineapple fritter,’ announced Ethan. ‘It’s extremely well done.’
Gracie the Galah let out a happy screech, and Mr Jollybowler frowned at the high-pitched noise. ‘Why is it all these parrots are so noisy?’ he muttered to himself.
‘How is your ice cream?’ Heathcliff asked Blong.
‘It’s fish-flavoured!’ said Blong happily. ‘Fish ice cream is the most inspired idea in the world! Everyone should try this!’
‘I love your enthusiasm, my young friend,’ said Heathcliff, before turning to Gracie. ‘Gracie, the most gracious Galah, you have done an outstanding job creating these wonderful ice creams. Mine tastes of meat, with a hint of cheese, something that very much appeals to my palate.’
‘What a wonderful way to start our next trip,’ said Jed happily. ‘Now, what is our challenge for this ride?’
Every trip had a different task – singing, doing a test, throwing coconuts through hoops, dancing or spelling. Jed crossed his fingers behind his back, hoping it wasn’t another test. It was something Kiri and he agreed on; tests were bad news. Strangely, Emma and Ethan liked doing tests, however.
‘Whee-up, whee-up! I’d like each of you to compose a simple poem,’ said Gracie the Galah.
‘Poetry?’ said Kiri and Ethan together, both looking aghast.
‘Valentine’s Day is around the corner, so writing a thoughtful poem is a lovely way to make someone’s day, to show some appreciation,’ said Gracie the Galah.
Mr Jollybowler cleared his throat. ‘Let me give you an example. Roses are red, violets are blue. Sugar is sweet, and so are you.’
Gracie the Galah beamed at Mr Jollybowler. ‘That is a perfect example. Simple and heartfelt. Whee-up, whee-up! Now you try as well, children.’
‘I’ve got this,’ said Ethan with a smirk, looking at Kiri. ‘Roses are red, violets are blue. A face like yours belongs in a zoo.’
Kiri scowled and glared at Ethan. ‘Roses are red, violets are blue. You look like a donkey and smell like one, too.’ She poked out her tongue when she had finished.
‘No, no!’ cried Gracie the Galah. ‘Poetry should be nice, something beautiful!’
Jed snorted and then spoke to no one in particular. ‘Roses are red, violets are blue. I smell like roses; you smell like poo.’
Ethan giggled, and Kiri glared at him. Emma sighed. ‘Come on, we can do nice poems too. How about roses are red, violets are blue, what colour flowers should I give to you?’
‘Much better,’ said Gracie the Galah, nodding her head.
‘I know,’ cried Blong the Cat, who had been frowning with concentration, trying to think up a poem. He turned to look at Emma. ‘Roses are red, violets are blue, and I’ll never be blue while I have you.’
Emma scooped up Blong and cuddled him. ‘What a lovely poem, Blong. You have made my day.’
Heathcliff the Dog turned to Jed. He’d been waiting patiently to have his turn, and his dark eyes looked soulful. ‘Roses are red, violets are blue, I’ve never experienced a love so true.’
Jed smiled at his dog and patted his black fur, which was peppered with grey. ‘You really are my best buddy! That is a fabulous poem!’
‘Well, they were all exceptionally creative,’ said Mr Jollybowler. ‘I will look forward to hearing more poetry on the ride home. Now, where do you youngsters want to go today?’
‘Flip Flop Bay, please,’ said Emma.
‘An excellent choice!’ said Mr Jollybowler. ‘And if we want to keep to the schedule, it is time to get going.’
He handed each of the children a small orange ticket, clipping the tickets as he handed them out. He nodded at Blong and Heathcliff as the sand under their feet began to ripple, forming skinny ridges.
‘Hold on to a palm tree, children and animals!’ shouted Mr Jollybowler as sand began flying past their feet, the island stretching towards the horizon.
The children grabbed a palm tree each, Blong clinging to Emma, his ginger fur on edge. Heathcliff chose the same palm tree to hold on to as Jed.
‘Whee-up, whee-up! Next stop Flip Flop Baaaaaaay!’ shouted Gracie the Galah, her sweet voice accompanied by a loud pinging sound.
Flip Flop Bay Is Not What They Expected
It was clear as Elastic Island neared the jetty at Flip Flop Bay on Whoop Whoop Island that the twing and twang weren’t working correctly, despite Mr Jollybowler’s assurances. They were coming in at an incredible speed, the island shaking unusually around them, everyone hanging on to their palm trees desperately, hoping they wouldn’t end up in the sea.
‘Oh, the twang isn’t right!’ shouted Mr Jollybowler over the rush of wind and salty sea spray.
‘I don’t like the look of this,’ muttered Ethan, managing to retrieve his binocubrolly from his backpack with one hand. It was one of his inventions, a pair of binoculars with a small set of wipers across the lenses, and when he pressed a lever, a brolly popped up.
Blong made a pitiful meow as Elastic Island came to a dramatic skidded stop, a wave of water crashing over them. Everyone got drenched, except Ethan, who was kept dry under his binocubrolly.
‘Oops,’ said Gracie the Galah, looking at Mr Jollybowler, both of them utterly wet from head to toe. ‘Sorry, boss, I thought I’d calibrated the twing and the twang correctly, but it seems I got it wrong.’
‘Not to worry,’ said Mr Jollybowler, retrieving his bowler top hat, which had fallen off.
He began tipping out the water. ‘It’s always a bit tricky to get the twing and twang right, and you are new to this. And it’s just a bit of water, nothing to make a fuss of, really. We are all safe and well at Flip Flop Bay, and we are even on time!’
Kiri let go of her palm tree and began to wring out her hair, glaring at Ethan.
‘So selfish,’ Kiri said to Ethan, who was grinning smugly. ‘You didn’t think about us, did you?’
‘The brolly isn’t big enough to cover all of you!’ said Ethan, packing up his binocubrolly and putting it in his backpack. ‘Besides, you said you didn’t like my invention, so why should I share it with you?’
Blong was so wet he more resembled a rat than a cat, and he leapt from Emma’s arms and began to cough. He was an exceptional cat who could produce small, dry paper certificates called Blong-a-grams, and they all waited with interest to see what his new certificate would say. Emma picked it up reverently when he had finished and read it to the group.
I, Blong, formally ask that Mr
Jollybowler double-checks the
twing and the twang from now
on, not his assistants, so we don’t
get wet when we arrive at our
destination. It should be noted
that I don’t like water.
Signed, Blong the Cat
Mr Jollybowler put on his bowler top hat, frowned and scratched his nose. ‘I am sorry that you are wet, dear Blong,’ he said finally. ‘We take customer complaints very seriously. So I promise in the future I will double-check the twing and the twang myself, so this probably won’t happen again. Is that alright with you, Gracie?’
‘I’d be relieved,’ said Gracie. ‘Whee-up, whee-up! I’d much rather be making ice cream or writing poetry.’
‘Excellent,’ said Mr Jollybowler before turning back to Blong. ‘We do take pride in the safety of our Elastic Island journeys, so we will endeavour to make sure you are kept dry on future rides.’
‘Thank you,’ said Blong, giving him a small bow. ‘I appreciate that very much.’
Ethan rummaged in his backpack and handed Emma a beach towel. ‘You might want to dry Blong off,’ he said.
‘Good idea,’ said Emma, who began to dry Blong with the towel. Blong purred loudly.
‘See, I’m not that selfish!’ said Ethan to Kiri.
‘Huh!’ was her only response as she stepped away from him to stand on the Flip Flop Bay jetty.
Soon Blong the Cat was looking his usual self, so much so he did a little boogie dance when Emma had finished drying him. ‘It’s wonderful not to be wet!’ Blong announced.
‘It can be said that the sun always shines after the rain,’ said Heathcliff, shaking his fur vigorously. ‘Well, in this case, it was a wave of water, but I think you will understand my meaning, my young friend.’
‘You are always so wise!’ said Blong, dancing near to Heathcliff, who smiled at his enthusiasm.
Jed patted his dog and followed Kiri on to the jetty. ‘This looks like a nice place to spend a day,’ he remarked.
At the end of the jetty was a picturesque fishing village, colourful huts dotting the landscape from the gravelly shore up into the rocky hills.
‘I can’t wait to check out the flying school,’ said Kiri with a grin.
‘Same here!’ said Jed enthusiastically, throwing his ball back and forth.
The rest of the children stepped on to the jetty, followed by Blong and Heathcliff, looking around with interest.
‘Enjoy your time on Whoop Whoop Island,’ said Mr Jollybowler.
‘We will look forward to taking you safely and dryly back to Browns Bay in the future.’
Jed looked at his special watch that had all the time zones for the Elastic Island services. ‘I’ve got the timetable all in here,’ he said.
‘Good to know!’ said Mr Jollybowler. ‘See you soon!’
Gracie nodded. ‘You can taste some more of my ice cream on the way home!’
‘Ace!’ said Jed.
The Elastic Island sand began to ripple, and Mr Jollybowler disappeared with Gracie on his shoulder into one of the palm trees, closing the door behind him. There was a flash and a loud ping, and Elastic Island disappeared from view.
‘I know Mr Jollybowler has explained how Elastic Island works, but it still amazes me,’ said Ethan. ‘I wonder how he is progressing with getting a permit for a new Elastic Island to go to the northern hemisphere?’
‘It would be amazing to travel that far and maybe go somewhere with snow!’ said Kiri. ‘We could go skiing or snowboarding!’
‘Or bobsleighing or ski jumping. But in the meantime, I wonder where we go to find the flying school on this island,’ said Jed, looking around.
‘I think I can help,’ said a voice nearby.
A boy who looked the same age as them, dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, with strawberry blond hair, was sitting on a park bench outside one of the fishing huts.
‘You need to go up the hill a little until you find Bob’s Flying School – it’s right next to Bob’s Gift Shop.’ He grinned at them. ‘I’m not doing much at the moment, so I can take you if you like.’
‘That would be cool!’ said Kiri.
‘I’m Bryce, by the way,’ said the boy.
Blong danced around the members of their group as he made the introductions. ‘This is Emma, my human, and this is Ethan, her twin brother. And this is Kiri. She’s a really great singer, by the way.’
‘Oh, thanks, Blong!’ said Kiri with affection.
‘And that’s Jed, and he’s really good at sports, and that is Heathcliff. We only met him on our last island adventure, but he’s one of us now. He’s one of the team!’
‘Thank you kindly,’ said Heathcliff the Dog. ‘I do feel very valued and welcomed into our esteemed group. Although we are new friends, you all bring so much energy to my soul. I am the richer for being with you.’
‘Gosh, it’s really nice to have you on the island,’ said Bryce. ‘You see, Whoop Whoop Island has fallen on hard times lately, and we don’t get many visitors these days, so it sure is good to see you all.’
Bryce began walking up the hill, and he gestured for them to follow him.
‘Do you live here all the time?’ asked Emma.
Bryce nodded. ‘My dad runs one of the fishing boats – he and I are the only humans left here, well, since the big storm a year ago. Bob has been at his wits’ end ever since, trying to create a business that will bring back the tourists.’
‘Who is Bob?’ asked Blong the Cat.
‘He’s our mayor,’ said Bryce. ‘You’ll like him – everyone does, but, quietly, I’m not sure his ideas for the island are that good.’
‘What do you mean?’ asked Emma.
‘Oh, you’ll see!’ said Bryce, as they continued to walk up the hill, past the small fishing huts. Now that Bryce had mentioned that the island had fallen on hard times, everyone noticed the signs of neglect. While still colourful, the paint on the huts was peeling off; some had broken windows, others looked utterly abandoned. And there was a noticeable absence of people.
‘Where is everyone?’ said Ethan. ‘This place looks deserted! What a dump!’
‘Ethan!’ said Kiri, elbowing him in the ribs. ‘You are such a dork. Don’t be so rude!’
‘No, it’s alright,’ said Bryce. ‘As I mentioned, it’s just Dad and me as far as humans go. Otherwise, the island is inhabited by the blue-footed boobies.’
‘Blue-footed boobies?’ asked Ethan. ‘What a ridiculous name. What are these creatures?’
‘But didn’t you mention Bob?’ said Kiri. ‘The mayor? Is he not human too?’
Bryce turned and looked at them with a grin. ‘I think before I take you to the flying school, I need to take you further up the hill so you can see the blue-footed booby colony on the opposite side. Bob’s one of them. I mean, he’s our mayor, and he’s also the leader of the blue-footed boobies!’
Hope you enjoyed this preview. Borrow a copy from your nearest library, treat yourself and buy a copy from your local bookshop or gift it to somebody special.