Dave Lowe (text), The Boy Fitz Hammond (illus.), The Spectacular Holly-Day (The Incredible Dadventure #3), Bonnier/Allen & Unwin, Oct 2017, 192pp., $14.99 (pbk), ISBN: 9781848126114
One look at the cover of The Spectacular Holly-Day made me smile. It’s bright, not to mention the first of many dad-like puns that will absolutely make you and your young readers laugh out loud!
Holly is nearly 11 when her Dad invites her on a work trip to Malaysia. Her Dad is a journalist, who is invited to write a review of a plush, expensive hotel, which is not the sort of adventure Holly thought he went on during his work trips. To her horror, she finds herself stuck in the Adventure Club, which is in essence a place for parents to dump their kids while they go off and do adult things.
Holly is determined to have an adventure of her own. After going out with her Dad one afternoon and meeting a friend, Siti, she heads off again the next day to see Siti, and an island destined to be the site of a new hotel. Siti tells Holly about the animals there and what will happen to them once the hotel is built.
When she returns to her very worried and angry father, Holly convinces him to take a closer look at the island, despite the assurances of the hotel VP that all the wildlife will be taken care of. It’s then Holly and her father have the adventure she longs for, and save the island and the animals.
Dave Lowe gives us a fearless and relatable character, who is eager to try new things, in Holly. The book introduces us to her friends and enemies at school, and her desire to take on challenges, like learning five new words and eating five different foods on her trip.
I enjoyed too how she makes new friends, and even if she isn’t always successful – she keeps trying with the next new person she meets – in this case, Siti.
Lowe brings Malaysia to life in all its vibrancy – whether it’s the traffic, food or the animals. It’s such a good way to introduce young readers to a new culture, most of all because Holly enjoys every bit of it and is eager to try everything she can. Best of all are the people Holly meets – Siti who becomes fast friends with her, and her family who help them expose the truth behind the project to build a hotel on the island.
I also should mention the relationship between Holly and her father. He is such a dad – with the dad jokes, and the loud shirts that embarrass her tremendously. But he is also encouraging and always listens to her and takes her seriously. He is very much a part of this adventure with Holly, which is a big plus for me with this book.
Reviewed by Verushka Byrow