Explosive Adventures: Two exciting stories in one! by Alexander McCall Smith

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Ill. by Kate Hindley. Bloomsbury, 2015. ISBN 9781408865866
(Age: 10-12)Recommended. Themes: Adventure; Thinking; Comedy; Environmental issues - logging; Piracy. The author who brought to life the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency has written two wonderfully witty stories for young readers in this book of Explosive Adventures. In the first story, The Popcorn Pirates, young children become the heroes in overcoming pirates who steal their cherished Caribbean Island popcorn produce. The children, (whose parents seem remarkably unperturbed by their adventurous suggestion to act as shipboard lookouts on the trading vessel that transports the 'explosive' produce) use their wits to overcome the marauding, but muddle-headed pirates.
The second explosive tale, The Bubblegum Tree, involves a Bubblegum factory problem, with a secret ingredient that is experiencing a supply risk. Two children join the factory owner on a trip to India, with their parent's permission and lack of concern, to 'rescue' the supply and to prevent the environmental disaster due to logging of the Bubblegum Trees. The bizarre local people, the Bubblegummies, live in a treetop city with an exciting Bungee jump escape route for emergency exits! The loggers become victims of the clever plot to rescue the Bubblegum trees, a plan hatched by the young protagonists with help from the locals and the factory owner.
Both these stories show the children overcoming fear and using their natural intelligence to create solutions to problems and outwitting adults, and in a Dahl-esque way have parents that give them freedom that would shock most adults! Consequently, these stories will be greatly enjoyed by young readers aged 7-10. Delightful, naive illustrations by Kate Hindley are scattered through the book.
Carolyn Hull