Jack Fortune and the Search for the Hidden Valley
By Sue Purkiss
Age range: 9–11; Book Band Y5/P6; Grey A; Sapphire
An orphan child full of mischief, Jack lives with his crotchety widow aunt in eighteenth-century England. His naughtiness knows no limits, and when one day he goes a step too far, Aunt Constance decides that she’s had enough: from now on, his bachelor uncle can take care of him. Uncle Edmund is in no way prepared for a boy with boundless energy and an impish streak – and anyway, he’s off to the Himalayas to search for rare plants! But Aunt Constance is absolutely determined, and Jack’s uncle has no choice – he will have to take the boy with him.
What follows is a terrific adventure that will see Jack and his uncle – the most unlikely of all expedition teams – sail to India, cross the jungle and reach their mountainous destination, before returning to London to present their findings to the Royal Society. Along the way, Jack will finally come to terms with the great loss that has blighted his childhood years and discover, quite unexpectedly, that he and his late father have much in common.
Fancy a Jack-inspired adventure of your own? Download and print the free Jack Fortune Activity Book now!
Teachers’ notes can be found here.
This novel, set in 1768, turned out to be a treat. An informative afterword outlines what was happening in the burgeoning world of science and exploration at the time. A riveting read for me, and for Key Stage 2.
Historical Novel Society
Sue Purkiss offers an exciting adventure story for KS2 readers which combines a boy’s search for his own identity and the resolution of deep psychological trauma, with the search for new and exotic plants.
I liked Jack Fortune and the Search for the Hidden Valley very much because, despite the difficulties Jack and his Uncle face, the adventure is a positive and hopeful experience and one that might encourage children to look beyond everyday life and issues in school and out into a wider world.
Awfully Big Reviews
It’s an exciting adventure with an unusual background, an insightful look into a boy’s life and an interesting piece of history.
Parents in Touch
…Resilience, courage, overcoming grief and growing in self-worth develop within Jack along the way. The author creates scenes rich with imagery, colourful landscapes and adds a quirky and interesting mix of characters. Jack Fortune and the Search for the Hidden Valley is an enthralling read, opening up a new historical horizons.
Here we have a rollicking yarn with much to recommend it […] Let's hope that we see Jack on further adventures in some other remote location.
It is also so exciting that the story cracks along at a pace that leaves you slightly breathless. Sue Purkiss writes in a very visual way, I could see the scenery and imagine the scenes playing out like a film in front of me. This seems like the ideal book for a reluctant reader; not because the text is simple or over easy, but because it is so exciting…
Jacqueline Harris, Education Consultant
Alongside her career as a children’s book writer, Sue Purkiss – a former educator and RLF Fellow – teaches creative writing and is very involved with the Scattered Authors Society. She lives in Bristol and enjoys drawing and singing in a choir.