When the queen of England calls, you’d better answer the phone.
Barnett takes his readers on a fun-filled ride across two continents in a mostly not-true adventure starring his childhood self. In this version, young child-of-the-1980s Mac is living in Castro Valley, California, when he receives a telephone call from the queen of England. The queen is missing some valuable treasure and needs Mac to retrieve it for her. While on the case, Mac travels across Europe in an attempt to find the thief and return the treasure to England. Barnett’s tone throughout the story is humorous, lighthearted, and a little glib, and the over-the-top story is sure to appeal to many readers. The references to the 1980s will appeal to adults who are reading aloud but will likely require explanation for the humor to truly hit home with children. (Yes, American blue jeans were a big deal in Russia in the 1980s!) Lowery’s illustrations, rendered in black, blue, and yellow, have an appropriately childlike look; due to both this stylistic choice and the book’s overall cheeky tone, it’s hard to tell whether the occasional inconsistency with the text and from illustration to illustration is intentional. There is no evident ethnic diversity in the background characters, a missed opportunity for some range in an otherwise white-only story.
A few visual quibbles aside, an enjoyable romp that will leave readers salivating for the sequel. (Historical thriller. 8-10)