An orphan child full of mischief, Jack lives with his crotchety widow aunt in eighteenth-century England. His naughtiness knows no limits, and when one day he goes a step too far, Aunt Constance decides that she s had enough: from now on, his bachelor uncle can take care of him. Uncle Edmund is in no way prepared for a boy with boundless energy and an impish streak and anyway, he s off to the Himalayas to search for rare plants! But Aunt Constance is absolutely determined, and Jack s uncle has no choice he will have to take the boy with him.
What follows is a terrific adventure that will see Jack and his uncle the most unlikely of all expedition teams sail to India, cross the jungle and reach their mountainous destination, before returning to London to present their findings to the Royal Society. Along the way, Jack will finally come to terms with the great loss that has blighted his childhood years and discover, quite unexpectedly, that he and his late father have much in common.
- Back Cover Blurb
Jack Fortune was in a filthy temper.
- First Sentence, Chapter One: The Final Straw
The heavy canvas bags had been torn apart, and their contents were scattered. Rice, vegetables and meal had been ground into the earth. Torn plant papers and petals drifted about the clearing, and carefully labelled boxes which contained precious seed had been smashed. Notebooks lay open, their pages muddy and torn.
- Memorable Moment, Page 122/3
SOURCE ... Received for review with thanks to Alma Books.
READ FOR ... No applicable
MY THOUGHTS ... What my grandad would describe as a rollicking good read for the bairns.
Marketed at those aged nine to eleven years, Jack Fortune And The Search For The Hidden Valley has a wonderful Boys Own adventure story vibe about it. Reading it I felt wonderfully nostalgic for the stories of my childhood.
Inspired by Sir Roger Banks and the 'plant hunters' (details of which are to be found in a short but interesting Afterword), adventurers who as the title suggests journeyed the world in search of rare plants.
A delightfully 'old fashioned' story with some amazingly memorable characters, many of whom are quintessentially British like Colonel Kidd whose Indian home 'looked exactly like an English one.' Why? You might well ask (Jack certainly did). Well, as Uncle Edmund explains "We're English. Of course the Colonel would want to live as he would at home."
Asked by many of my friends if I can suggest any books for their sons of this age. Jack Fortune is certainly one I wouldn't hesitate to recommend. In many ways a 'boy's boy', we first get to meet him digging up a dead rat he and his best friend, Will Puddy, had buried days previously, his Aunt Constance despairs of him, his Uncle Edmund, off on another journey into unknown territory, reluctantly takes him along. What is really nice about the story is how his character develops as he identifies skills he didn't know he had, growing as he comes to know of the customs of people very different to himself, learning about their beliefs and customs, oh! and the mythological metoh- kangmi, the guardian of a hidden valley, something the author impressively and seamlessly adds into the mix.
With a sub-title of 'And The Search For The Hidden Valley', fingers crossed there will be another adventure, perhaps another culture (and who knows, maybe even another mythological creature) to learn about, in a second outing for Jack and his Uncle.