The Secret Explorers

The Secret Explorers and the Comet Collision
The Secret Explorers and the Lost Whale
The Secret Explorers and the Tomb Robbers
The Secret Explorers and the Jurassic Rescue

S J King, illustrated by Ellie O’Shea
DK (Penguin Random House)

These four books, ideal for newly independent readers, feature seven children from different parts of the world, each with a special interest and expertise in a particular STEAM subject. Whenever their help is required, they receive a signal alerting them that they’re needed for a mission.
In The Comet Collision it’s space expert Roshni with Ollie (his expertise is the rainforest) who are called to the Exploration Station to undertake a mission and it’s truly out of this world. Tasked with fixing the space probe that’s orbiting Jupiter before it’s hit by a comet in less than two hours, the chosen two whizz off in a spaceship leaving the other team members to monitor the mission and communicate via control monitors. As the clock ticks Roshni prepares to undertake her first spacewalk – but that is only part of the story …

With a South Pacific Ocean setting, The Lost Whale sees Connor (marine expert) teamed with Roshni, a seeming unlikely partner but as in all the stories, the role of the less expected one is revealed during the course of the mission. Connor and Roshni set out in a submarine in an attempt to save a pod of humpback whales that have lost their way by steering them back onto the right track. However, those whales need air every 45 minutes and there are lots of boats in the waters likely to make things difficult. And difficult it soon is particularly when one of the whale calves gets separated from the pod. Will the Secret Explorers’ mission end in success?

Once again there’s plenty of action (love the rap) and a wealth of information is given in the course of the story – here it relates to marine life, threats to ocean ecology and climate change; and like the other books, after the story are further facts and diagrams relating to the themes, plus a quiz and a glossary.

It’s Gustavo with his expertise in history and engineering expert Kiki who pool their skills in The Tomb Robbers adventure. They find themselves travelling back in time to ancient Egypt on a mission to save the Cairo museum in their own time from having to close on account of lack of treasures to attract sufficient visitors. That entails preventing tomb robbers from plundering the Great Pyramid for artefacts. As ever teamwork is key though it’s not easy for Kiki and Gustavo to work out who is and who isn’t to be trusted. This time, readers will learn a fair bit about life in ancient Egypt during and after the story.

Paleontology expert Tamiko, together with geology expert Cheng already have a fair bit in common and it’s they who undertake The Jurassic Rescue, going back in time 150 million years. There’s a precious Archaeopteryx egg to be rescued but in order to do so the two must hold off a group of predatory allosauruses. What with an earthquake, a landslide and the unexpected hatching of that egg, things are anything but easy, especially as so another of the team informs them, if they look too long at the hatchling, it might think Cheng and Tamiko are its parents. Will they ever manage to reunite it with its mother?

Dinosaur addicts in particular will love this one and enjoy the relevant back matter after the exciting adventure.

If you know or teach readers who are starting out on chapter books and like a good, well-illustrated story but want some facts too, then this series is a great starting point.

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