A review of Code Crimson: Arkie Sparkle Treasure Hunter by Petra James

Reviewed by Genevieve Ball

Code Crimson
Arkie Sparkle
by Petra James
Pan Macmillan
ISBN: 9781742611105, Paperback, 1 July 2012

It can be difficult to find modern books for advanced young readers. The books tend to have either inappropriate scenes and situations, or are babyish books that are far too easy, without plots or interesting characters that kids my age can relate to. Arkie Sparkle is exactly targeted to my age group — it’s a real novel with a strong, exciting plot and a character who is young and fun. The language isn’t difficult so reluctant readers won’t struggle, but for those who read well, there’s enough in the story to keep everything interesting.

Arkie Sparkle is a normal girl who is good at rhymes and lives in the last house on Artemis Street., with normal parents, living in a normal house. Her parents are Martha and Ted Sparkle. They are both archaeologists and treasure hunters. Arkie is also a member of THinc ( Treasure Hunters inc ). Despite all this, Arkie’s life is pretty much like mine, nearly. The Sparkle house is full of strange gadgets, and Arkie’s parents have known that Arkie was going to join the family business since she was two and they were on a dig in Pompeii.

So Arkie Sparkle lives a normal(ish), happy life. That is, until her parents are kidnapped. Arkie must find all of the seven treasures that are spread across the seven continents, and she only has seven days ( or else ). Luckily she has the help of her genius first cousin / BFF / neighbour, TJ.

Using a note that she found under the last cookie in the cookie jar, Arkie finds the first clue. It reads;

“When gods bathe in the light

One is forever lost from sight

But only he sees a golden queen

In a place where the sun has never been.

Small but important print:

Your task is to find the treasure and take a photo of yourself with it.”

This sets off a treasure hunt that is both exciting and fun, and will keep readers involved right to the end, and desperate for the next book in the series.

Arkie is a deeply developed character with a realistic personality that is unique and bouncy. She is a brave, daring tween who doesn’t give up easily and other kids the same age as Arkie will relate to her and imagine themselves in her adventure.

This book has just a touch of non–fiction provided by the true facts from the story at the end, so mum and dad can be sure that you’re still learning, even as you’re enjoying the story. What a nice change from ‘vampire romances’!

Petra James writes with an exciting, heart pumping style that makes the words dance on your tongue. I love her writing style because it has the perfect balance of Old Fashioned, Modern, and Action:

‘But have you ever timeslipped before?’ said TJ.

‘No, Mum said I had to be able to drive a car before she would even consider letting me go back in time. And possibly not even then.’ Arkie sighed.

‘But Mum’s not here now is she?’ Where is she?

Arkie Sparkle is a terrific book, and though I strongly recommend it to anyone in between eight and twelve (especially girls), who will imagine themselves in Arkie’s position, the book is suitable for pretty much anyone. The only problem with it is that I just can’t wait for the next one in the series.

About the reviewer: Genevieve Ball is a nine year old girl who has lived her entire life in Newcastle, NSW. She is the only girl, and has two brothers, one guinea pig, and several pet chickens.