While I don't intend to review on this site every book that I read, I consider P. B. Kerr's The Akhenaten Adventure to be well worth your attention. It's the first book in the new Children of the Lamp series, about 12-year-old twins John and Philippa, who discover themselves to be descended from a long line of djinn. A djinn, as the book says, "is the proper name for describing what is vulgarly known as a genie." John and Philippa travel to London to learn about being djinn from their Uncle Nimrod. With Nimrod, the twins embark on a series of adventures in Cairo and London and up to the North Pole. This book was strongly recommended to me by an 11-year-old friend in Austin, TX.
While The Akhenaten Adventure is filled with action, it also includes considerable humor (a one-armed chauffeur named Groanin who complains all of the time, a pink Ferrari with Range Rover wheels, and dogs who can change the TV channel to CNN). Adults will especially enjoy the character of Uncle Nimrod, a snobbish British djinn who makes no secret of his distate for babies, and utters dry witticisms at regular intervals. For instance, in comparing English vs. American breakfasts he says "The bacon must taste like meat instead of strips of dried skin removed from the feet of an overworked rickshaw driver."
Uncle Nimrod is also a proponent of books, though this is a relatively minor theme. He won't tell the twins anything about being djinn until they have finished reading "Tales from a Thousand and One Nights." He advises them to read because "education is something you'd best give yourself", and later says "You can never read too many books." Of course I agree with him.
The Akhenaten Adventure also includes a veritable treasure trove of extra material at the end, including an author biography and interview, recipes and exercises for would-be djinn, and historical information about ancient Egypt. I learned from the author biography that Mr. Kerr was spurred to write this, his first children's series, by his son's reluctance to read books. "In order to entice William away from his video games, Mr. Kerr decided to write a story specifically for his children." I think that this book has to potential to lure many other children away from television and video games, too.
Mr. Kerr is also a prolific writer of thrillers under the name Philip Kerr. Asked about the switch from writing thrillers to writing children's fantasy, Mr. Kerr said: "Well, it's a bit of a thriller, as far as I'm concerned. I think thrillers are really just children's books for adults anyway." I found this last idea, that thrillers are just children's books for adults, personally satisfying. The books that I most like to read are children's books and adult mysteries and thrillers. It's nice to know that I'm not alone in seeing a link between them. And so I recommend The Akhenaten Adventure to you. Happy Reading -- Jen
© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.