I have been eagerly awaiting Vashti Hardy’s second title for Barrington Stoke and may have let out a little squeal of excitement when it arrived at my door. The Puffin Portal is the sequel to the Griffin Gate and although it can be read as a stand-alone when the story-telling is as good as this you’d be well served to buy both.
Grace Griffin is now a fully fledged Griffin Warden along with her mother and brother, Bren, who use their magical map to teleport around Moreland answering calls of those who need help. Recently there have been lots of calls and the family have found themselves struggling to cope, there is even talk of recruiting an additional warden although mum thinks it best to keep the work within the family.
Grace is responsible for dealing with most of the minor calls and whilst none are particularly interesting, Grace is convinced that the reported thefts of small items and the sighting of a bird at each crime scene are linked in some way. But when the clues lead to a remote island, Grace finds herself with a whole new mystery to solve…
Teleporting into Vashti Hardy’s imagination is a wonderful thing and I loved being back with Grace and her trusty robo-bird sidekick Watson as they tried to uncover who was behind the mysterious thefts and the truth about a strange boy. As is Hardy’s trademark, The Puffin Portal is an exciting adventure with a wonderful female lead and a nice big dollop of STEM. Fancy gadgets and master plans though are not what Grace needs to solve her latest mystery, it is her emotional intelligence that works in her favour as Hardy masterly weaves a wonderful story of friendship and what it means to have a family. The fabulous Grace showing her determined and resourceful nature to solve the mystery and in doing so we get to meet a new character who I think may be making future appearances.
Hardy’s writing is like a warm-hug that completely envelops you and transports you, or more accurately teleports you, into the most wonderful of adventures. Exciting and heartfelt, The Puffin Portal is also a great deal of fun with Watson providing plenty of witty one-liners. And if you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to face an army of mechanical puffins then you need wonder no more as Grace finds herself facing perhaps her biggest challenge yet - this particular scene is one of several that is brilliantly illustrated by the fabulous Natalie Smillie.
Vashti Hardy has firmly established herself as a must-read author and with a rapidly expanding catalogue of titles children of eight plus are spoilt for choice. Hardy and Grace Griffin will be back with more in 2022 and I’m already excited for The Raven Riddle. True to Barrington Stoke form, the book is produced using dyslexic friendly font and page tint ensuring a read that is accessible to every reader. Any child who picks up The Puffin Portal is in for an absolute treat!
With huge thanks to the lovely peeps at Barrington Stoke for another brilliant book.
Recommended for 8+.