Teacher’s Notes: More Books

Blong the Cat’s Costume Caper

By Karen McMillan

Published by Duckling Publishing

About the Book

From the bestselling Elastic Island Adventures series comes a delightful stand-alone book featuring one of its favourite characters, Blong the Cat.

Blong goes shopping to buy a special outfit to wear to a wedding, but not everyone likes his choices! A story of costumes, numbers and dancing, all wrapped up in a bow of kindness.

Blong the Cat is based on the real-life cat who Karen and her husband adopted from Vanuatu to live with them in Auckland. Just like the fictional cat, Blong loves cuddles and music.

Karen McMillan lives in New Zealand and is the author of 17 books, published in nine countries, a mixture of fiction, non-fiction and children’s books.

Her non-fiction titles include Everyday Strength with co-author chef Sam Mannering, Unbreakable Spirit, Love Bytes and Feast or Famine. Karen has ghost-written From the Blitz to the Burmese Jungle and Beyond. Her fiction titles include the bestselling novels The Paris of the East, The Paris of the West and Brushstrokes of Memory. Karen is also the author of the popular Elastic Island Adventure series for children, which is in early development to be made into a series of animated movies. Karen wrote Elastic Island Adventures purely as a fun family project, and some of the characters are inspired by stories she wrote as a child that were serialized in the children’s pages of a nationwide New Zealand Sunday newspaper. She is also working on two spin-off series, one featuring Blong the Cat, the other The Very Naughty Frivals.

Karen is the resident book reviewer on The Cafe TV3 and appears regularly in the media. She has been a speaker at many festivals and events, including the Going West Festival, the Devonport Arts Festival, the Tauranga Arts Festival, and Brisbane Book Week in Australia (thanks to Creative NZ Funding).

The illustrations are by Dmitry Chizhow, who lives in Russia. The illustrations are colourful, imaginative and fun. Blong is based on the author’s real-life cat, and Emma and Ethan also are characters in the Elastic Island Adventures series of books for older children aged 8 to 12 years.

The story is written in third-person point of view prose in a 36-page picture book. Blong the Cat has been invited to a wedding, so Emma takes him shopping to buy something special to wear. Blong is excited and dances in front of the mirror as he tries on different outfits. Unfortunately, Emma’s brother Ethan doesn’t want to be there, and he is thoughtlessly unkind to Blong with what he says. Blong tries on increasingly more absurd costumes until everything reaches a climax, and Ethan realises that he has upset Blong. Ethan apologises, Blong decides on what he wants to wear, and all is resolved.

There is lots of fun alliteration and repetition in this book. Bling-Blong, Cling-Clong, Ding-Dong.. And children learn a lot of positive, encouraging words, such as handsome, fetching, attractive…

The book is suitable for children 3 to 7 years but can also be read to children a little younger, and an older child may also enjoy the story.


  • Look at the cover. What do you think the tone of the story might be?
  • How has the author set the scene on the first page?
  • What do you think of Blong the Cat?
  • How would you describe Emma after meeting her on the second spread in the book?
  • Why do you think Ethan doesn’t want to go shopping with Emma and Blong?
  • There are ten costumes in the book. Which one do you like best?
  • There are ten dances in the book. What sort of music would go with each dance?
  • Did you notice the shoes on the bottom right-hand corner in the book? Can you count to ten using the shoes as your guide?
  • There are a lot of words that rhyme with ‘Blong’. Can you name some of these words?
  • Near the end of the book, why is Blong so upset?
  • Do you think Ethan meant to be unkind, or was it an accident? Was it a good thing that he apologised? What lesson did Ethan learn from this experience?
  • What do you think of Blong’s final choice of costume? Do you like the bow tie, or would you have picked something else?

There are many different types of dance styles in this book. Choose a song that you like and try one of the dances from the book to perform.

Blong the Cat tries on 10 different outfits. Think of a costume you would like to wear and draw a picture!

The Great Crown Mystery: A Search and Find Book

By Chrissy Metge

Published by Duckling Publishing

About the Book

The Great Crown Mystery is a fun search and find book through the rooms at Buckingham Palace. Where has Candy the Corgi hidden the Crown, and can you find the other hidden icons throughout the pages?

Chrissy Metge is the author of the Max and His Big Imagination series and the Amy’s Dreaming Adventures books. Chrissy also works in the animation film and TV industry. Although a New Zealander, The Great Crown Mystery was inspired by living in London for three years

The illustrations are colourful and fun and encourage hours of searching to find the Crown and various other items: Candy Corgi, Big Ben, The London Edge, Underground Sign, Golden Yeoman Warder, a Red Telephone Box, The Tower Bridge and a Red Bus.

The story is written in rhyme in this engaging picture book.

In room number one,
the fun has begun.
Balloons to the ceiling,
are any revealing?

The book is suitable for children 3 – 10 years, but older and younger children may also enjoy the story.


  • Look at the cover. What do you think the tone of the story might be?
  • How has the author set the scene at the start of the story?
  • Candy Corgi is a crucial character in the book. What do you think of her personality?
  • There are many rooms in the book (although not 775). Which is your favourite?
  • In room one, there are many balloons. How many are there?
  • In room two, there are dinosaurs. Which one do you like the best, and why?
  • You get to enjoy sweet cake in room three. What cake would you choose to eat?
  • Room four has a maze. Have you been in a real maze? What was that like?
  • Winter fun is revealed in room five. What activity would you like to do?
  • There are lots of animals in room six. Do you have a favourite?
  • Room seven has lots of clothing. What do you like to wear the most?
  • Do you like the sea creatures in room eight?
  • In room nine, they play chess. Do you know any of the pieces of this game?
  • Room ten is a horse paradise. What do you know about horses?
  • There is lots of candy in room eleven. What would you eat if you were in this room?
  • Room twelve has many butterflies. What do you know about butterflies?
  • You get to enjoy a show in room thirteen. Do you have a favourite play or musical?
  • Room fourteen we can enjoy some tennis. Have you played? What do you think of this game?
  • There are some fun facts about London at the back of the book. What are your favourite things in London, and why? Are any of the things mentioned that are a surprise?


Using a piece of cardboard, cut out the shape of a crown. Decorate the Crown any way you would like, using colours and texture.


There are so many visual elements in this book. Draw pictures of your three favourite creatures or things and make up a voice to go
with your drawings. Tell a story of how they came to be at Buckingham Palace.