for advanced readers ages 9-12
From the author:
Imogene is only five years old when her parents suddenly and mysteriously disappear. Left with no choice but to live with an abrasive relative, she finds comfort in the alliance she's forged with an unlikely friend. She secretly holds dear, her mother's last words. "Five years, Imogene. I shall come for you in five years." Imogene sadly soon learns, that things are not always as they seem. Upon reaching the age of ten, she has new confidence, and eagerly awaits her parents' return. Under the encouragement of her friend, Imogene embarks on a journey to an incredible world, learns who she really is, and where her true destiny lies.
Imogene of the Pacific Kingdom is a mix of other wildly popular adventures for younger readers, without the gore and murder situations found in stories for slightly older readers. The story is lengthy, with a vocabulary that may require occasional explanation.
A daughter is left in the care of an uncompassionate relative during her youth, and learns at age ten that she is no ordinary child. Imogene’s strange and compelling love of water nearly gets her in trouble with the relative who thinks perhaps soccer is more suitable. When the time is right, Imogene’s parents do not return…Imogene is drawn to them in their fantastic world. Imogene quickly adjusts to her new life with her quirky new gifts, until the Pacific Kingdom is in danger once more.
As the author notes, it’s up to Imogene to not only learn, but follow her true destiny. I tried to read the story through the eyes of a fourth or fifth grader and enjoyed Imogene’s spunk. As a parent and grandparent, however, I was sometimes dismayed at an occasional lapse of respect for adults, even if Imogene’s cantankerous aunt was quite over the top, Lemony Snicket-style. Although I imagine young readers won’t notice the healthy amount of exclamation points on a page, they really weren’t necessary as the dialog and action moved along just fine. I think the story would have been much stronger if the author had chosen only one or two characters to narrate, at least at one time, instead of an occasionally confusing multiple point of view style. That would have allowed Imogene to carry the story with her own heroism. Imogene of the Pacific Kingdom is aimed at older elementary school female readers, though boys would certainly find much to like as well.