First, I must fully disclose that I have not read Book 1 (Realand) and Book 2 (Raffie Island) prior to reading Book 3 (Queendom). Did I wish I had? YES, for two reasons. One, this was a very fun, highly imaginative story. Two, I did feel like I needed more back story. It almost felt that I was late to the party. So, while I did struggle a bit at the start of the book trying to understand how the portal works, where it came from, and where it led to, as the story moved along, I found it be a wild adventure that I’m sure will captive the young and those who are young-at-heart.
Queendom is the third book in The Portal Series by Dee Kirkby and it centers around two children, Max and Laura, (a brother-sister duo) who discover a secret portal which takes them to another world. Coming along for the ride is their stuffed toy, Oscar the crab who comes to life in this secret world. The next thing we know is that the threesome is off to Queendom, a world where fantastical creatures such as “joops” (i.e., a large caterpillar-like creature), “Raffies” (i.e., dwellers of Raffie Island), “ochocuernos” (i.e., mini bulls), “sluggers” (i.e., the bad guys), the legendary “Gulper”, and a number of living weapons such as the battle bunnies and swans dwell. The author has an absolutely vivid imagination. The entire time I was reading the book, I was thinking to myself that this is the type of scenario that my children would come up with in their improvised, imaginary play. It is an original and highly creative setting.
The underlying plot involves a basic good versus evil theme. When “JoopDay” rolls around, the sluggers (i.e., the bad guys) take advantage of the relaxed security as the joop guards take the day off to witness the hatching of all joop eggs. This allows for the sluggers to raid Queendom’s cloud apples orchards. Our heroes, Max and Laura devise a plan, Operation Sluggerbegone, to not only stop the sluggers, but to prevent their craving from taking over their senses. As they put into action Operation Sluggerbegone, they are dismayed to discover an even bigger problem – the joop eggs have all been swallowed by “The Gulper” and all but one joop has been destroyed! Without giving the ending away, I’ll just say that the cliffhanger will leave you wanting to read the next book in the series.
From a purely adult perspective, there are so many laugh out loud moments in the book. For example, there is a scene where the Commander of Peace is training Max and Laura in defence techniques and he says the following:
The trouble with life is that is has no danger music and so to be well prepared for battle one must understand the silent danger signals.
And interestingly, the next line is as follows:
Words also have the potential to be wielded as our most powerful weapons.
That’s one thing I really appreciated about the story is that, while there are mentions of battles and fighting, the clear underlying message is that peace and peaceful ways to resolve conflict are always better options.
There are a few pencil drawings scattered throughout the book to accompany the text. I thought these were terrific and really added to the story. I think this was especially important for this book because the author is introducing creatures that are original, such as the joops and sluggers so it helps to visualize them. I thought the illustrations were completely appropriate for the story.
I did take issue with one teeny little part of the story. This may sound ridiculous, but in the story, Max and Laura fall asleep while watching T.V. in Max’s bedroom. As a parent, I would never put a T.V. in a child’s bedroom. I know many children do have T.V.’s in their room, but for our household, that is a big no-no. Does it make any difference whatsoever in the book? Um…no…
My Bottom Line:
Author Dee Kirkby has created an original, highly imaginative, and quirky series of adventure books for tweens with The Portal Series. While I did enjoy the third book in the series, Queendom, I really do feel it may be necessary to read the first two books in the story in order to be able to fully relate to the main characters and to have a full understanding of how the portal works. Regardless, Queendom was a wild and enjoyable ride and I recommend The Portal Series to boys and girls who are independent readers. Ages 7+
* 4.5 Stars *
I was given this book free-of-charge by the author in exchange for our honest opinion. All opinions expressed are our own.