Mr. Pen­guin and the Lost Trea­sure

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Reviews Middle Grade - CATHER­INE THURESON

Alex T. Smith, Peachtree Pub­lish­ers (APRIL) Hard­cover $16.95 (208pp), 978-1-68263-120-1

In Alex T. Smith’s amus­ing Mr. Pen­guin and the Lost Trea­sure, a pen­guin sets up shop as a pro­fes­sional ad­ven­turer and re­ceives his first case—but it is more than he bar­gained for.

Mr. Pen­guin has just launched his busi­ness when he gets a call from a lo­cal mu­seum. They want him to search for hid­den trea­sure. With Colin, his spi­der as­sis­tant, Mr. Pen­guin sets off for the mu­seum and be­gins his search. The mu­seum owner has found a clue in the armpit of a stuffed wal­rus: “X MARKS THE SPOT.” Be­fore long, the two quirky leads, ac­com­pa­nied by the mu­seum owner and her brother, are on a sur­pris­ing, twist­ing, and dan­ger­ous quest.

The plot is full of turns, though the cen­tral pur­suit for the miss­ing trea­sure is ap­proached in a straight­for­ward way. The mu­seum base­ment is a cav­ernous fan­tasy land full of the un­ex­pected. The search starts out in a se­cret stair­well crawl­ing with in­sects and soon leads to a jun­gle with a river full of al­li­ga­tors, where a dan­ger­ous wa­ter­fall cov­ers a hid­den cave. The threat of jewel thieves find­ing the trea­sure first adds a sense of ur­gency to the al­ready en­ter­tain­ing story.

Mr. Pen­guin is de­light­ful. He fan­cies him­self a se­ri­ous ad­ven­turer, but in prac­tice, he would much rather just have peace and quiet to en­joy his lunch. Colin, on the other hand, is a tough lit­tle arach­nid; more than once, he breaks out his for­mi­da­ble kung fu skills to as­sist.

Il­lus­tra­tions show the char­ac­ters en­gaged in a va­ri­ety of out­landish ac­tiv­i­ties. They are ren­dered in black, white, and or­ange and are whim­si­cal and silly, cap­tur­ing the en­ergy of the story beau­ti­fully.

Mr. Pen­guin and the Lost Trea­sure is a fun and funny ad­ven­ture.

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