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Book Review: Arkie Sparkle Treasure Hunter Code Crimson

 Book Review: Arkie Sparkle Treasure Hunter   Code Crimson

As someone who works in a software development office, and whos therefore surrounded by the latest and snazziest geekery, I thought I had it pretty good. But the various i-gadgets that are stacked up on my desk have nothing on what eleven-year-old Arkie Sparkle has at her disposal.

Theres Datamax, a know-it-all device thats definitely got the jump on its namesake;'the supersonic mini-jet Blur; the time travel device TimeSlip; the parabrella, a Mary Poppins-esque brolly-meets-parachute; and even the in-jokily named HAL, which is short for House ALarm.

It may seem like a lot of tech, but years in this office tells me that no matter how arcane a device, it has its purpose. And when Arkie Sparkle finds a ransom note at the bottom of the cookie jar (a misfortune cookie, perhaps?) saying that her parents have been kidnapped, well, of course that parabrellas going to come in handy.

Particularly given that the kidnapper expects Arkie to take a round-the-world treasure hunting trip, not to mention a jaunt or two back in time, to find them. There are seven mysteries to be solved (and, by the by, seven books in this series) before Arkie can get her parentals back safe and sound.

And so, armed with gadgets galore, Arkie, her super-mega-genius cousin TJ and Cleo the basset hound set off to their first destination: Egypt. Once there, theyre given the task of solving a series of clues relating to Queen Nefertari and the the Temple of Ramses, which theyre then to email (attachments are okay) to the kidnapper as proof of their mad archaeological skills in order to unlock mystery, and therefore book, number 2.

Its such a fun concept, and I love that were given two smart and gutsy female characters to follow throughout. Theres an emphasis on cultural inclusivity as well, and this is highlighted not only within the text, but also in the fabulous illustrations by Roy Chen. The design of the book is superb, and Im very impressed with the quality of the production throughout, and particularly the attention given to the various little geeky asides and bits of arcana peppered throughout.

To be honest, I found the story quite flimsyalthough thats likely me looking at the world through my Big Girl glassesand I really struggled with the dialogue, particularly TJs, which I felt really missed the mark:

Did you know that the Chinese invented umbrellas about 2500 years ago? They are also called brollies, gamps and bumbershoots, [said TJ.]

You sound just like an encyclopaedia sometimes, said Arkie [snipped for brevity]. Brrr.

Double brrr, said TJ. Its because were in a desert. They get very cold and very hot. And the Sarahara Desert is the hottest desert in the world. Temperatures can get up to 78 degrees Celsius.

Doesnt your head hurt with all those facts bumping into each other? said Arkie.

No, Im very neat and my brain is too, said TJ. Everythings filed in the right cortex. And thats just as well because did you know that the average human has about 70,000 thoughts a day? Of course, considering Im not your average human, I probably have at least double that.

Dont get me wrong, I love the concept of a human encyclopaedia, but the dialogue just doesnt ring true to my ear. I couldnt help but feel that some of these nerdy soliloquies might have been cut for some additional emphasis on plot and characterisation.

Where the book really shines is in those aforementioned geeky snippets, which are sharp and witty and had me chuckling more than once. Theres the NATO phonetic alphabet insertion, for example, where the author has written out a phonemic transcription of each of the wordsfew of which are at all phonetic. Theres the description of the various code alerts, the urgency of which are measured based on whether or not theres time for a cup of tea first.

And perhaps best of all, theres the get-out-of-school note that Arkie forges where she writes Im afraid that Arkie and TJ will not be attending school this week. They will be learning from life instead. How can that sentiment not resonate?

The subsequent Arkie Sparkle books will be released over the next six months, and I look forward to seeing what the kidnapper has in store for Arkie in her next adventurewhich will see her heading off to China.

Rating: star Book Review: Arkie Sparkle Treasure Hunter   Code Crimsonstar Book Review: Arkie Sparkle Treasure Hunter   Code Crimsonstar Book Review: Arkie Sparkle Treasure Hunter   Code Crimsonblankstar Book Review: Arkie Sparkle Treasure Hunter   Code Crimsonblankstar Book Review: Arkie Sparkle Treasure Hunter   Code Crimson (good)

With thanks to Pan Macmillan for the review copy

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  1. I really love this series, i wish it was around when i was a kid! What fun adventures Arkie and T.J have (apart from the fact her parents have been kidnapped!). Ive just finished reading Time Trap (#2) set in China and liked this one too.

    • Stephanie /

      Its great fun, isnt it? Certainly appeals to my (not so) inner nerd! Ive put in a request for the next two in the series, and look forward to seeing what happens to Arkie and TJ next.

  2. Yes, Ive read them both. They were fun and the author manages to sneak in some learning, the kind where the young reader will go off and look it up.

    • Stephanie /

      Definitely good fun. I liked the inclusion of the facts at the endit was a good decision to put them there rather than in the body of the text.

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