Passports To Peril is a new picture book series featuring a group of adventurous, rather naughty but nevertheless hilarious friends who get up to all sorts of adventures, in this first book in France and in future episodes, I would presume, in other European countries. ("All the way from Denmark down to Italy", if the friends get their way.)
We are introduced to Gwendoline Prue, a rather bossy but fun-loving girl (because of her rather old-fashioned, middle-aged taste in clothes in the illustrations, Pierre was convinced she was the gran of the other children - I had to go back to the start of the story to prove him wrong !) who has decided that she and her five friends need to go on holiday.
They are certainly resourceful ! Following Prue's advice, they decide not to tell their parents, manage to rustle up some fake tickets and passports and sneak onto a cross-Channel ferry pretending to be cleaners and crew members.
Thanks to their quick-thinking (and some extremely gullible adults !), they make it across the Channel and their French escapades can begin. They discover the Champs-Elysées, French cuisine (Pierre thought it was hilarious when they ordered snails, thinking "escargots" were some sort of little fish) and the Eiffel Tower. They even pack in some extra adventures on their travels, rescuing kittens and sneaking into a disco.
The story is written entirely in rhyme, which makes it even more fun to read aloud, and the very simple illustrations give it extra childlike appeal. Despite their sneaky, not to mention at times illegal and decidedly dangerous, stunts, the friends have great appeal, not least because they get themselves into all sorts of hilarious scrapes. The book finishes with a few French words and notes about places of interest in France so it is a nice introduction to French culture.
The story ends with a clue about where the gallivanting globetrotters will go next. "Shh ! Here's a rather helpful clue : Film stars, movies and festival cheer, Grace this place but once a year." Our guess is Cannes, so I'm sure they'll be swanning around the French Riviera in the next book.
star rating : 4/5
RRP : £6.99
Disclosure : I received the book in order to write an honest review.