Books & Literature

Book Review: Frankie Best Hates Quests, by Chris Smith

MIDDLE-GRADE: ONWARD and Cressida Cowell meets The Wizard in my Shed in an accessible Pixar-like fantasy for 8-12 readers by bestselling author Chris Smith.

A laugh-out-loud magical story.

British author Chris Smith and Greg James have both had huge success with their Kid Normal series. Smith has now branched out on his own to create a hilarious new world for children aged 8-12 years.

Frankie Best Hates Quests is the story of Frankie Best and her younger brother Joel, who are left with their grandfather while their parents go camping in the Arctic to get inspiration for their best-selling online game Spingle’s Quest. Frankie hates the idea that her parents are the authors of such a childish game. It’s okay when you are eight years old, but when you are 12, it is not so cool.

Once they have been unceremoniously dumped by their parents (at least that is how Frankie and Joel feel), they discover that their grandfather and parents have a long-kept family secret. But worst of all, Frankie has no phone reception!

After discovering an attic in her grandfather’s house, Frankie and Joel get caught up in a journey to save their grandfather … it is not a QUEST!! Along the way, they meet all sorts of people and unusual creatures. Frankie has to use every ounce of her ingenuity on this quest … er, jaunt.

Chris Smith provides many, many laugh-out-loud moments. He often directly addresses the reader to give us little asides along the way. He also writes wonderful descriptions which perfectly allow the reader to experience the safari (not a quest) along with Frankie and her small band of helpers:

“In the centre of the village was a very large inne. Justice knew it was an inne because of the large letters reading INNE on the door. On the other side it said OUTE.”

The location names are a fun to read: Fishsmelling-on Sea, Wandering Walrus and Mrs Mumpish. In fact. the entire world created by Smith is new and exciting.

The brightly coloured front cover by Kenneth Anderson shows Frankie and her small band of adventurers, and black-and-white illustrations dotted throughout the book add to the readers’ enjoyment. Every now and then we are privy to Frankie’s own journaling which adds an extra dimension to the story. We are also shown pages from Grandad’s Bestiary, which add to our understanding of the creatures the children encounter. Animals like “Peeky Pooka: they live in the wall cavities of human homes and have the unnerving habit of peeking out at you from cracks” or “Angel Owls: they emit a soft light which attracts the moths upon which they feed”.

This is a story about family and how far you will go to save them. But it is also about choosing friends who care for you just as you are, not requiring you to be someone else to fit in.

Frankie Best Hates Quests is a book that anyone, young or old, would enjoy. It would make an excellent class novel, especially being read aloud as it has lots of scope to use expression. It would also give children many ideas for writing their own piece of fiction. A highly recommended fun read!

Reviewed by Sue Mauger

This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not Glam Adelaide.

Distributed by: Penguin Books Australia
Released: April 2022
RRP: $14.99

More News

To Top