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Mr Penguin and the Fortress of Secrets

Mr Penguin and the Fortress of Secrets Book 2

Published: 2 May 2019

Paperback / softback, 288 pages

Recommended for age 7+

By Alex T. Smith

Published by Hachette Children's Group

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From the international bestselling creator of Claude comes a brand new hero: Mr Penguin. Indiana Jones meets Hercule Poirot in this series from Alex T. Smith.

The Mr Penguin series

Mr Penguin and the Lost Treasure #1
Mr Penguin and the Catastrophic Cruise #3
Mr Penguin and the Tomb of Doom #4

Reviewed by Jo Bowers

Mr Penguin and the Fortress of Secrets is for anyone who loves a detective story, and this one is different in its humour and adventurous travels of Mr Penguin and his sidekick, Colin, the spider who is a master of kung-fu, his friend Edith Hedge and her pigeon Gordon.

This is a fast-paced adventure with a mystery to solve, filled with the fantastic illustrations of Alex T Smith throughout.  The story begins in a roaring twenties-style glittering ballroom of the Golden Pagoda Hotel where Mr Penguin and his gang are fully immersed in solving a case and recovering a rare stone by seizing a very real case! Which they do, with an escape in an aeroplane that then crash lands into a snowy mountainside village where all pets have gone missing near a mysterious fortress. And there, of course, they are led into another mystery and adventure. If I tell you anymore, I will spoil the rest of the mystery and adventure. My advice is, read it!

There are so many questions to answer at every turn. What is the significance of the rare stone? Why have all the pets gone missing? What is going on in the fortress? Who is writing the notes and unfolding story about hypnotism throughout the book?

The joys of this story are many: the humour; the plots and how they surprise you and all cleverly link up in the end; the plethora of very different characters throughout and of course the resourcefulness and ingenuity of Mr Penguin and his gang.  I like that the resolution is not obvious and that there is another dark story that unfolds gradually throughout. So there is much to talk about, think about and laugh out loud in every chapter. For teachers, this is a great read-aloud book and also one for independent readers new to chapter books.

This is the second in a series of Mr Penguin books by Alex T. Smith, the first being Mr Penguin and the Lost Treasure.  Here’s hoping there are lots more to come.

Mr Penguin features in Just Imagine’s Reading Journey read more here

Jo Bowers is a Principal Lecturer in Primary Education (Literacy) at Cardiff Metropolitan University. She joined the university ten years ago and prior to that was a classroom teacher and English leader in a primary school for nineteen years. Jo has been editor of, and currently sits on the Editorial Board of English 4-11 for the English Association and the UKLA Publications Committee. Jo runs an Open University Reading for Pleasure Teacher Group for teachers in Cardiff and sits on various shortlisting and selection panels for children's book awards, currently the English Association Picture Book Award and the Books Council of Wales Tir na n-Og Award. Jo is a Wales representative for UKLA, reviews books for Just Imagine and writes for English 4-11. She is passionate about children's literature and is happiest when she is reading and surrounded by books.