I was lucky enough to request and receive a copy of this free from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. All views and opinions are my own.
The Adventure Club: Red Panda Rescue by Jess Butterworth, illustrated by Kirsti Beautyman, published by Hachette
This is a perfect read for animal loving children and bidding environmentalists. I’m a big fan of Jess Butterworth’s books for older children’s, so I had high hopes for this and wasn’t in the least disappointed!
As expected, she has brought us a story which deals with both environmental and ‘real life’ issues sensitively and age-appropriately, with heaps of nature, excitement and adventure to boot!
Tilly has just moved house and started a new school. She’s nervous and unsure about making new friends, but very excited about a competition to win a week in Nepal finding out about red pandas and how to protect them. The only problem is she’s got to write about an adventure, and she’s never done anything brave or exciting…has she?
Written in the first person as Tilly’s journal entries and thoughts, this has a really believable voice and feels perfectly pitched to its audience. This combination of notes, bullet points, longer passages of text and illustrations also makes this really easy to read, and to ‘stop and start’ (though I confess, I couldn’t stop!) giving it plenty of appeal for readers ready for a chapter book but put off by pages full of text.
This style of narration also really helped us to gently explore Tilly’s worries and nerves and showed how she dealt with and overcame them in a really positive and reassuring way.
Likewise, Jess’ love of nature and animals always shines through in her books and no more so than here, as we explore Nepal with Tilly (having read Running on the Roof of the World, I was so pleased to revisit the Himalayas with Jess – it’s clearly an area she knows and loves!).
From the yaks to the mountains to the momos, there is an authenticity to it all and Tilly’s excitement about all her new encounters is utterly infectious!
I also loved that it was rooted in fact. We learn a great deal about the red pandas and their home from Tilly’s notes, and it’s clear there’s no cuddling up to them or far-fetched abilities – Tilly’s yak ride being a case in point!
Kirsti Beautyman illustrations add to this perfectly too, with lots of expression, warmth and appeal but a sense of realism too. They really enhance Tilly’s descriptions and help readers to visualise her experiences.
Indeed, between plane flights across the world, camping under the stars with strange noises outside, snow leopard sightings, difficult river crossings and evidence of poachers not to mention new schools, new friends and new experiences this is packed full of adventure and excitement and fires the imagination beautifully!
This is a brilliant start to what promises to be a fantastic new animal adventure series for young readers! I can’t wait to see where Tilly takes us next!
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