'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Tuesday 3 July 2012

Review: Arkie Sparkle, Treasure Hunter: Code Crimson

Meet eleven-year-old Arkie Sparkle. From the age of two, her archeologist parents knew she was going to be a treasure hunter. In fact, Ted and Martha Sparkle added 'Incorporated' to their Treasure Hunters business name pretty much straight after Arkie found her first 'treasure' on an archeological dig. Admittedly, it was an old plastic spoon, but nevertheless . . .

In Code Crimson, the first of seven books in the Arkie Sparkle series, we meet Arkie and her best friend TJ. Arkie has just discovered her parents have been kidnapped. She discovered it in a note hidden in the cookie jar (naturally) and now she only has seven days to search seven continents and solve seven clues. Only then does she have any chance of finding her parents again.

Along with trusty doggie sidekick Cleopatra, Arkie and TG head off in Blur - a supersonic spaceship - to Egypt, where their first adventure awaits. Can they solve the first clue on the first day, whilst navigating burning deserts and time travel complications?

Arkie Sparkle has definitely filled a large gap in the please-no-more-fairies-or-wannabe-popstars junior fiction arena for girls aged 7 to 10. She is a gutsy, clever, funny character - with real life amiability, coupled with a cool, supersonic vibe girls will love.

This first book in the series is well-written, well plotted, clever and surprisingly funny. Author James uses fabulous wit and historical detail in a way that is both educational and highly entertaining. She has peppered Code Crimson with real life historical people, presenting them in fresh ways that are approachable and fascinating.

Illustrations, notes, diagrams and rollicking font changes add interest for younger readers, and help break up the text - and the sudden ending, with promise for a second adventure, make the reader hanker for more.

Clearly a well-planned and cleverly-marketed series, I was pleased to discover that Arkie Sparkle is just more than sparkle, and is a really fabulous new series for girls. My only complaint would be that the '7 continents' thing is very American (as opposed to the 6 continents most of the world's children are taught, incorporating, of course, North and South America into one continent - The Americas).

That aside, I'm already hankering to travel with Arkie and TJ on their second day adventure. Time Trap (an adventure in China) is out 1 August.

Title: Arkie Sparkle, Treasure Hunter: Code Crimson
Author: Petra James
Illustrator: Roy Chen
Publisher: PanMacmillan, $6.99 RRP
Publication Date: 1 July 2012
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781742611105
For ages: 7 - 10
Type: Junior Fiction