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Jack Fortune: And the Search for the Hidden Valley5/5

Jack Fortune: And the Search for the Hidden Valley

Sue Purkiss

Review

Jack Fortune is an orphan being brought up with his aunt in eighteenth century England. He is such a trouble to her he gets sent to live with his Uncle. Uncle Edmund does not really want him either, as he is about to embark on an expedition to the Himalayas to find rare plants. So, Jack goes with him to India and then on to the Himalayas. On a terrific adventure Jack meets Maharajas, princes, and villains, as well as seeing places one can only imagine take your breath away.

My ten-year-old son took this book to read before I had the chance and his verdict was, 'absolutely brilliant'! I have to say I completely agree with him. This was so exciting and unusual in its theme that I was completely hooked from the first few pages. The combination of historical travel and adventure is so fascinating that as soon as I'd finished, I wanted to read more. (I hope Sue Purkiss is writing more!)

It is also so exciting that the story cracks along at a pace that leaves you slightly breathless. Sue Purkiss writes in a very visual way, I could see the scenery and imagine the scenes playing out like a film in front of me. This seems like the ideal book for a reluctant reader; not because the text is simple or over easy, but because it is so exciting - this is going on my list of books for boys - though I can imagine girls will enjoy it just as much.

Covering History, Geography, Botany and Art, this story lends itself well to using in class. I have already started thinking of ideas of how to use it with children as well as how much fun it would be to read aloud to a class.

224 pages / Ages 9+ / Reviewed by Jacqueline Harris, education consultant

Reviewed by: Jacqueline Harris


Jack Fortune: And the Search for the Hidden Valley4/5

Jack Fortune: And the Search for the Hidden Valley

Sue Purkiss

Review

Sue Purkiss's lively new tropical adventure takes place in the foothills of the Himalayas and sees young hero, Jack Fortune, take on an epic and dangerous journey. When orphaned Jack's beleaguered Aunt Constance finally tires of his boisterous and disobedient behaviour, Uncle Edmund is called upon to take on his care. A bachelor, all set for an expedition to India and completely unprepared for childcare, he is reluctant to take Jack and only submits after pressure from Constance.

An arduous journey is only the start of their troubles as they face immediate resistance to their plans to search for rare plant life in a holy and secret valley. When they finally secure permission to truly begin their mission, a traitor in their midst almost causes disaster as Uncle Edmund is rescued from the claws of death. As they continue to battle the unknown landscape, Jack finds a talent for sketching, clearly inherited from his deceased father, the man who he blames for his childhood grief. As Jack comes to terms with his past, he finds a kindred spirit in Uncle Edmund and enduring new family bonds are formed.

This is a lovely old-fashioned adventure set in an exciting time of scientific exploration and discovery. Jack and Edmund are pleasingly flawed but ultimately decent people and there are some interesting cameos from both Indian and English characters who reflect the divided colonial landscape. There's also a fascinating Afterword about Plant Hunters that really helps to give this delightful book an authentic historical background.

186 pages / Ages 8+ / Reviewed by Clare Wilkins, school librarian.

Reviewed by: Clare Wilkins