When Archer arrives home at Rosewood from boarding school, finally to meet the grandparents he has never known, he quickly learns about a dastardly campaign against the returning explorers.
Oliver Glub, whose newspaperman father owns the Doldrums Press, and Adélaïde, the neighboring French girl, are Archer’s best friends. They show Archer the slanderous news stories being published by the untrustworthy Rosewood Chronicle, stories that claim the explorers fabricated their stranded-on-an-iceberg story, are insane, and have caused an unusually snowy winter. When Grandma and Grandpa Helmsley arrive, they take the children to visit the huge campus of the Society, whose current president, Herbert Birthwhistle, has been trying to ostracize the grandparents—or probably worse. Archer’s determined to help, but the evil Mr. Mullfort, Birthwhistle’s confederate, threatens to disappear the three children. As in the first book, there are amusing descriptions, madcap excursions, and narrow escapes from danger. The effects of herbal Doxical Powder fuel a funny party scene. Unfortunately, Adélaïde’s wooden leg, which worked its way so organically into the first book, has now become an uncomfortable, overly frequent, semicomical reference. There is also a long sequence during which the friends are using a ham radio—not apt to excite contemporary readers. It is heartening, however, that the text sets readers right on the often misunderstood history of chocolate. The full-color illustrations depict a cozy, quaint village and its residents, seemingly mostly white.
Rather overstuffed. (Adventure. 8-12)