‘Hello, this is the office of Mr Penguin, Adventurer and Penguin. Mr Penguin speaking.’ These words launch our seabird hero into the very first case of his adventuring career. The fabulously named Boudicca Bones is calling. The owner of a dilapidated local museum, Miss Bones believes that there is treasure hidden somewhere among the exhibits. If Mr Penguin finds it, she can restore her beloved museum and reward him handsomely. Mr Penguin gleefully accepts, and so begins Mr Penguin and the Lost Treasure by Alex T. Smith, a thrilling, flipper-quivering escapade, involving secret tunnels, sinister characters, and a clutch of disgruntled alligators.
Boudicca Bones’ Museum of Extraordinary Objects boasts rooms containing such curiosities as ‘noses fallen from statues’ and a ‘collection of odd smells.’ Silent, shadowy and with the classic museum look of ‘twirly bits of stonework,’ it’s on the verge of ruin. With treasure map in hand, Mr Penguin (and Colin, his arachnid sidekick) step in to save the day. But they are not the only treasure seekers on the trail, and readers who double as amateur sleuths should remember that things are seldom as they seem.
This is the best kind of action adventure, one with hidden staircases and levers, the twistiest of plots, and some jaw-dropping villainy. With hilarious sleight of hand, our author also manages a swift and startling scene change, and here we are, in the jungle, complete with waterfalls and precarious rope bridges.
‘This doesn’t look like the basement to me…’
Alex T. Smith is such a talented writer and illustrator. He created the fabulous Claude the Dog series, which went on to become a much loved TV show, and here, with Mr Penguin, he’s channelled the same exuberant silliness into a fun, comic adventure. His detailed and elegant pencil drawings will absorb young readers, making this the perfect transition from picture to chapter book.
Mr Penguin and the Lost Treasure has been brilliantly described as Indiana Jones meets Hercule Poirot, although I don’t believe Monsieur Poirot had a penchant for fish finger sandwiches! Most enjoyable.
Mr Penguin and the Lost Treasure is published by Hodder Children’s Books, 208 pages.