Henrie's hero hunt by Petra James
Illus. by A. Yi. Walker Books, 2020. ISBN: 9781760650858.
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. This fast paced sequel to Hapless Hero Henrie (2019) will have instant appeal after Henrie receives a call on the Hero Hotline, a phone she is not allowed to answer. After all her hero status is not confirmed by the Melchior family, one in which only the male line takes up heroism.
With Aunt Ellie trying to get her away, and Henrie prevaricating on whether to answer the phone or not, thirty pages roll away with the two sparring over words, and Henrie speaking directly to the reader while the stage is set for another foray into the hilarious adventures of Hapless Henrie.
The girl on the other end is unsure but Ellie traces the call. Marley has rung them after finding an ad for the House of Melchior amongst her dead aunt's things. Her great aunt, Agnes Hunt has left clues behind leading the two to a dig in Egypt, uncovering Agnes's association with the Carter expedition of 1922 which resulted in the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen. Further investigation reveals that Agnes was accused of stealing a statue from the tomb. Marley is appalled and they are determined to find the answer to this mystery.
A trip to the Museum of Antiquities reveals not only that the statue Aunt Agnes was supposed to steal is not on the Tutankhamen inventory, but there is another operative after it as well. Violeta Villarne kidnaps Alex and Marley and bribes Henrie into handing over the tiny key found in Agnes' embroidery box. From there with Alex and Marley locked in the backroom at the museum, Henrie must work hard at outwitting the smart Violeta.
Petra James throws lots into the mix, ensuring middle to upper primary school readers will be absorbed with hieroglyphics, morse code, deciphering, espionage, walkie talkies using spy jargon, along with pages of text broken up with notes and letters, lists and instructions with illustrations by A. Yi, adding to the fun.
They will be intrigued with the sub plot of Henrie's search for her parents, last seen in Prague nine years ago, and this amongst many others layers will keep them reading right to the end.
Themes: Humour, Spying, Family, Egypt, Tutankhamen.