Coombe’s Steele is the real deal
IN Arky Steele, Tasmanian- born author Eleanor Coombe has created an engaging character to lead readers on a series of gripping adventures that include a heady mix of ancient civilisations, hidden treasure, excitement, intrigue and world travel.
Arky thinks he’s an average 12- year- old boy, but with a superstar mountaineer for a mum and a dad who’s an archaeologist, adventure is never far away. But neither is danger. Their evil nemesis is billionaire Goran Rulec, who will stop at nothing to get his hands on ancient treasures.
In this first instalment, Arky and his dad Doc head to Mongolia to find the lost treasure of the fearsome Genghis Khan. It is here that Arky meets Tue, a shepherd boy who accidentally discovered the first clue to the treasure, and Bear, the son of a movie star and stepson of wealthy Lord Wright, who sponsors Doc’s expeditions.
The very clever guardian of Genghis Khan’s tomb left clues to the treasure’s whereabouts, and as the boys use nous, knowledge and good luck to guide them, they encounter hidden caves, frozen bodies, giant buddhas, waterfalls, ravines, headless soldiers and Rulec’s ruthless henchmen, who are never far behind them. Somewhere along the line, these three boys, thrown together from very different worlds, find that they have more in common than they think and develop a firm friendship that will help them surmount the most threatening and terrifying obstacles.
Coombe has created a series that is bound to appeal to many young readers, particularly boys. Along with all the action, suspense, adventure and ancient brutality, Coombe includes plenty of bodily functions and the odd bit of nudity and bare- bummery.
The language is simple, sentences are short, vocabulary undemanding and descriptions brief, making it the ideal stepping- stone for readers not quite ready for the superlative action adventure stories of writers such as Anthony Horowitz ( Alex Rider), Eoin Colfer ( Artemis Fowl) and James Patterson ( Maximum Ride).
FOR younger or lessconfident readers who nonetheless love action and adventure, the wonderful Andy Roid series fits the bill perfectly.
Felice Arena has shown his mettle as a terrific writer beloved by boys and girls who love footy, through the hugely popular Specky Magee series. The hero of this latest series was dreadfully injured in an accident and his parents, government scientists specialising in robotics, rebuilt him using their latest, untested research. Andy’s recently been refitted with more gadgets and has been recruited by the government as a secret agent, along with his friend Judd. They’ve been sent to Switzerland to track down the headquarters of the unscrupulous Blaireau Corporation. In Tracks of Death, the eighth instalment in the series, Andy finds his life in peril more than once. He has to eject from an F- 18 Hornet, save a group of Japanese scientists from a cable car, and stop a train before it reaches a bridge that is about to be blown up. Likeable characters, cool gadgets, lots of danger, the odd pretty girl, plenty of humour, visually stimulating text and excellent writing make this a super- appealing series for confident young readers.
STEVE and Marion Isham are stalwarts of the Tasmanian picture book scene, having begun publishing and illustrating stories, in 1992, and then selling them at their stall at Salamanca Market, or online at www.bandicootbooks.com.
Daniel the Devil tells the story of a young Tasmanian devil who strays too far from home, but eventually gets picked up by a ranger and taken to safety.
Along with the lovely illustrations drawn by Marion and painted by Steve, there is interesting information about Tasmanian devils and the terrible parasitic cancer now afflicting them. Many other native animals are included in the illustrations and listed on a back page, and there are fun riddles for young readers to solve.
THESE likeable little books for dinosaur lovers were a pleasant surprise. They centre on Robert Irwin, son of the legendary Steve, and his best friend Riley.
While Robert loves living and working with the animals at his home, Australia Zoo, in Queensland, his other great love is dinosaurs. And a fossilised claw of an Australovenator, which somehow has the power to take him and Riley millions of years back in time, allows the boys to get up close and personal with some pretty incredible creatures and learn more about them.
In Call of the Wild, when they travel through time they discover a young muttaburrasaurus langdoni which has got itself stuck in the mud a long way from its mum.
As the boys set about rescuing the junior dino, they ponder the noises dinosaurs would have made and conclude that roaring probably wasn’t as prevalent as we all imagine it to have been.
Short chapters, well- spaced font, plenty of dinosaur info, action, adventure and likeable characters make this a very appealing series for young readers ( boys in particular) with active imaginations, curiosity about the world around them and a sense of humour.
For ages six to nine, or emerging solo readers.
by Marion and Steve Isham, tells the story of a young Tasmanian devil who strays too far from home. DANIEL THE DEVIL By Steve and Marion Isham ( Bandicoot Books, hardcover, $ 19.95).
GUARDIAN OF THE TOMB
By E. Coombe Book one in the Arky Steele series ( Lothian, softcover, $ 14.99)
ANDY ROID AND THE TRACKS OF DEATH By Felice Arena ( Puffin, softcover, $ 9.95)