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

Tuesday 25 June 2024

Review: Penny Draws a Secret Adventure

Penny Draws A Secret Adventure
is the third in the Penny Draws series from NY Times best-seller, Sara Shepard. Like it’s predecessors, this book is also a humorous and quirky wander through the life of a middle-grade, sometimes-angst-ridden child who has rather wonderful powers of observation.

The book is set out as a diary or letters to Penny’s dog, Cosmo. Penny’s secret super-power is to doodle, and one of the absolute joys of this book are the line drawings which so beautifully sum up the situations that she finds herself in. 

These drawings are an integral part of the narrative – you don’t read one without the other, which is genius when it comes to reluctant readers.

Penny has become a new big sister to twin babies who don’t seem to like her much; and also, the discoverer of a mysterious box of keys (found in a dark room somewhere in her new house). And thus begins the secret adventure of this story.

Random clues which are cryptic and require lots of teamwork, take Penny and her friends all over the neighbourhood and eventually to the scary witch’s house on the corner. I particularly love the sketches here, which depict a slightly open door and terrifying shadows cast from Penny’s imagination.

As with previous publications in this series, the simple black and white line drawings add exponentially to the enjoyment and substance of the story. In a previous review I said that the images feel a little like poetry, in that they bring a depth of mood and tension with just a few lines, and this is definitely still the case.

Readers will love Penny’s flaws and honesty, along with her willingness to problem-solve and take matters into her own hands whenever she can. Even after a massive melt-down in front of her friends!

If you’re a collector of treasure, then this book might just be middle-grade gold.

Title: Penny Draws A Secret Adventure
Author/Illustrator: Sara Shepard
Publisher: Text, $16.99
Publication Date: 3 April 2024
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781922790569
For Ages: 8 +
Type: Middle Grade Fiction