Frankie Best Hates Quests
400pp., pbk., RRP $A14.99
Frankie Best is not in a good mood. Apart from the fact that her dad keeps calling her Princess, she was looking forward to spending a week with her Aunt Fi while her parents went off to the Arctic and spending the week eating pot noodles and watching You Tube but now her aunt is in hospital with a burst appendix and they’re heading to her grandfather’s house instead. And she and her brother Joel are not looking forward to that because they hardly know him.
They are even more dismayed when they discover he lives in a ramshackle old cottage in the centre of an overgrown garden, has long white hair held in a pony tail and even though it’s 3.23 in the afternoon, he’s outside, in his pyjamas and dressing gown peering in through the window of his house and holding a net! How eccentric or crazy can this old man be? Things get worse as she is confronted by not only no phone signal but her grandfather doesn’t even know what wi-fi is, let alone have a code for her to access it. Or even a television. How on earth is she going to entertain herself without her precious screen?
Well, she soon finds out when her grandfather is kidnapped by gnoblins and she is forced to embark on a rescue mission across a magical realm filled with strange creatures and dangerous enemies that require her to use her ingenuity, and imagination and find inner reserves she didn’t know she had.. Can there actually be more things in the world than those that come via an internet connection? And could they actually be more important than what her ‘friends’ think?
This is another story for those who are independent readers who enjoy the currently popular genre that embraces parallel worlds populated by weird, fantastic inhabitants and becomes a good vs evil battle between them and the hero/heroine who is as ordinary as they are. As well as the narration, the story is interspersed by Frankie’s journal entries telling the story from her perspective and the lessons about life and herself that she learns along the way – lessons that can also apply to the reader as they navigate the tricky pre-teen path to independence.
But the serious is tempered with humour in the author’s choice of words, particularly place and creature names, and every now and then there are also detailed descriptions of some of the creatures encountered, which, if this were used as a class read-aloud, lend themselves to being used as examples for students to imagine and describe other creatures that might live in the world of Parallelia.
There are many books in this genre for this age group available at the moment – this is one of the better ones.