Arthur is a nimble-minded, science-loving thirteen-year-old living in your average housing estate. He is not high in the friend stakes but just he and his dad enjoy a peaceful enough life. Arthur's main priorities include keeping a low profile at school and avoiding confrontation at all costs, both of which are challenged when one morning on the way to school he witnesses a mysterious explosion.
Arthur is not alone. Renegade bad girl, Ren and fashionista, Cecily also happen to be in front of number Twenty-seven when it implodes destroying the garden gnomes out front and potentially wounding a cute ball of canine fluff.
Following the dog into the damaged house, the three unwittingly embark on an adventure of a lifetime. Somehow they and the dog, Cloud, are sucked into another dimension and…time. It is now the year 2473 and the trio are trapped in Wonderscape, a mega in-reality adventure game that is something altogether different from 21st Century VR. To progress from realm to realm, country to country, galaxy to galaxy, Arthur, Ren and Cecily must use their combined wits and physical endurance to complete challenges that reward them with realm keys that open the portals from one realm to another. It’s a heart racing experience. Challenges are cloaked in riddles and fraught with dangers, plus there’s the added pressure of competing against dozens of other Wonderers.
What makes their quest all the more thrilling and desperate is the fact that they if they fail to find the special time key within 57 hours, they will dissolve into snotty slime. Not an attractive prospect especially since they are already hopelessly late for school.
Fortunately our time travelling trio are not alone. Within each realm they discover an historical hero figure from the past, famous for their scientific brilliance or combative heroism and more. Some of these characters will be familiar to tween readers, Thomas Edison for instance. Others are not so widely well-known but just as fascinating like: Amaros Ba and Wangari Maathai (Google them if you like!) With the aid of their genius (and some rather natty Wondercloaks), Arthur and the girls learn to work as a team while soaking up some serious historic and future wisdoms along the way.
Wonderscape is a stirring mix of familiarity and futuristic fun that leaves you teetering on the edge of your seats… or mountain precipice or train carriage as the challenge may be. Cracking with time-sensitive tension and action, this adventure tale will entertain and awaken the gamer within ten-year-olds and above. It evokes a sense of being your own hero and reassures youngsters that friendships are not necessarily forged from similarities but rather shared experiences and understanding. This read is definitely worth walking through a Wondergate for.
Author: Jennifer Bell
Publisher: Walker Books, $14.99
Publication Date: June 2020
For ages: 9 – 14
Type: Middle Grade Novel