A new series for young girls hit bookshelves this month, and the series has a lot going for it:
- Starting at $6.99, each book is incredibly affordable
- The series features a confident, adventurous, female protagonist
- The series spans 7 continents, providing a geographical and historical edge
- The series features a welcome change in theme for the 8-12 age group
The concept of this series is brilliant; there are seven books within the series. Arkie Sparkle’s parents have been kidnapped and in order to find them, Arkie must undertake 7 challenges which take place within 7 days and throughout 7 continents (with each book representing a different day of the week).
Interspersed throughout this fictional series are snippets of history and the back of the book features an ‘In Real Life’ section, which provides factual information about the real-life individuals and locations mentioned in the story.
The books are of an attainable length for independent readers (approx. 100 pages), and are broken up into smaller chapters. The books are peppered with personal margin jottings, illustrations, diagrams, character profiles, and snippets of resourceful information (e.g. The NATO alphabet).
Petra James engages readers with an entertaining use of language, which includes the use of fun puns. Main character, Arkie Sparkle, also has her own blog. You can check it out here.
About Code Crimson, the first book in the series:
We are introduced to Arkie Sparkle who arrives home from school to find that her parents have been kidnapped. All her life she has been preparing to follow in the footsteps of her parents to become a treasure hunter. Now, she must put what she had learned to good use.
In order to find her parents she must meet the first challenge awaiting her, which will see her searching for hidden treasure inside the temple of Ramses II in Egypt, Africa. This is a wonderfully, exotic and interesting continent in which to begin the series.
There is a science-fiction undertone to the story, with the inclusion of time travel and futuristic devices but this technique helps to make the historical components fun and interesting rather than laborious and overwhelming.
With the help of her dog, Cleopatra, and her cousin, TJ, she translates codes, riddles and ancient Hieroglyphics. She also draws on futuristic inventions such as Supersonic Mini Jets, Parabrellas and Time Slips to take her to a time when John Burckhardt and Giovanni Belzoni are discovering treasures in Egyptian pyramids and temples.
There are lots of complications and challenges for Arkie, and her strength of character in overcoming them is commendable. The problems are solved quickly in this fast-paced book, which might be a downfall. I’d like to see the character and the reader work a little harder to find solutions. Having said that, this decision helps to keep the book at a suitable length for independent readers.
Set in China, make sure you look out for the next book in the series, Time Trap, which will hit bookstores in August.
Author: Petra James
Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia, July 2012
Suitable for ages: 8-12