The Griffin Gate, Vashti Hardy’s first title for Barrington Stoke published last year was a big adventure packed into a small book so I had been looking forward to reading this sequel. The Puffin Portal has all the appeal of its predecessor plus a likeable new character to get to know too. The latest instalment of this enjoyable steampunk fantasy is another hit.
Grace Griffin has now qualified as warden and is enjoying working with her family to fight crime across Moreland using the Griffin Map to teleport through the land. Grace has been allocated the task of solving a series of odd, small thefts that have been happening and the only apparent link is the sighting of a small bird near the scene of the crime. The resourceful Grace refuses to give up and eventually follows the clues to a dilapidated castle on a lonely island accompanied by her trusty companion, Watson the robot raven. Once there her detective skills uncover something rather unexpected.
There is much for children to enjoy in this enjoyable story. There are clues to solve, an engaging lead character in Grace, humour, wacky inventions, and ultimately a lesson in kindness, friendship and what family really means. Natalie Smillie’s illustrations capture the personalities so well and bring the plot to life for young readers. This is a great package and perfect for children who would find fantasy adventures of 300 pages plus daunting. The Puffin Portal contains all the elements of a full blown adventure in a manageable format. I can see this series being popular in primary school libraries and classrooms.
Vashti Hardy, a former teacher, has created a selection of downloadable resources and ideas for creative class work which are available on her website. This book has a dyslexia-friendly layout, typeface and paperstock so that even more readers can enjoy it. It has been edited to a reading age of 8.
I should like to thank Barrington Stoke for providing my review copy. The Puffin Portal was published on 2nd September and can be purchased via their website. You can read the first chapter below and my review of The Griffin Gate here.