Sunday 18 August 2013

The Secret Tunnel

The Secret Tunnel by Mitchell Stone, illustrated by Nicki Jones (Little Steps Publishing)
PB RRP $14.95
ISBN 9781921928949
Reviewed by Emma Cameron

While many students don’t believe the rumours, the story opens by telling readers that beneath the classrooms, playground and Principal’s office of Lionfield Public School ‘ran a secret tunnel’, so there are no doubts about its existence. Five simple and easy to follow chapters then give a story of about 1500 words that tell of how Edward and Sophie journey through the tunnel.

They first believe it exists when they hear the sports teacher and science teacher talking of it. Only the sports teacher knows the code that opens the entrance though he mentions “something about” another opening. Edward and Sophie find out the code when they spot the call number on the spine of a library book entitled Tunnels. Once inside they close the door and can’t reopen it so must find the other opening to get back out. 

Journeying along, their sense of hearing and smell confirm where under the school they are, for example, canteen, staffroom, playground etc. Just as they reach the tunnel’s end they discover the science teacher is in there. He says “No student has ever seen my private lab before and it must stay that way.” Edward and Sophie agree to keep his secret and know that, in return, they will not be in trouble for having entered the tunnel.

The 45 pages are so filled with brightly coloured pictures they dominate the text and this is likely to be especially attractive to young readers who may find text filled early chapter books still a tad daunting. Before the story begins is an invitation to readers: “Peer through the pictures, in front and behind… How many spiders can you find?” which is likely to be seen by young readers as an extra bonus.

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