Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Book Review - Henrietta Sharp and the Magic Lunch Box by Jan Welborn-Nichols

A book for children with a very powerful message.

"Twelve-year-old Henrietta Sharp is smart, funny and likes to read the dictionary. But all she really wants is to be normal, a normal size that is, like her fashion-minded best friend Taffeta Bloom. That’s life before a magic lunch box (LB) mysteriously appears and tells Henri that she is a Traveler, someone who can summon portals and travel the universe." (Goodreads)

I have to admit that I struggled at the start of Henrietta Sharp and the Magic Lunch Box. The pace was a little too slow for me and I just couldn't get into it, but then again, I'm not really the target audience for this book. 

Having said that, halfway through the pace picks up and the adventure becomes very interesting. I have to take my hat off to Jan Nichols. What she's trying to do here - entertain while teach some very important and fundamental truths - is no easy feat.

During her travels Henrietta has to learn about herself. The story is as much about eating healthy as it is about confidence and wisdom. And Jan works on all this touchy issues without going down the beaten track. 

I love the play with the names! In fact, I love the names period. A giant talking broccoli becomes Sir Brocco Lee and can you guess what kind of being is the character called McCauley Flower? Gargantua is the name for the city of excess, where they eat until they explode ('Garganta' is the word for throat in Portuguese), and the Faux Food Rebellion is the movement threatening the existence of Earth and other dimensions. Suchronos is the white rock that gets people addicted like zombies. Again, a clever play on the word sucrose for sugar. The Hall of Mirrors shows Henri her fears - how she perceives herself through other people's eyes. However, that's not what or who she truly is. 

Beautifully written, what Jan Nichols achieves with Henrietta Sharp and the Magic Lunch Box  is an adventure for children that not only entertains, but also highlights the importance of true friendships, being polite, family, trusting yourself, and knowing who you really are. Very well done.

OUT OF CURIOSITY: I would love to see this story as an illustrated book. Jan Nichols has some cool illustrations of it over at the book's website, where you can also find out more about Henrietta and the gang . Check it out!  


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