Title: Pentagon Pirate Gang: The Secret of the Orchard
Author: J. W. Nelson
In Pentagon Pirate Gang: The Secret of the Orchard, a group of students come together to unravel the mystery behind S.O.F.T, the School of Fruit Teaching. Five students think they’ll have an ordinary summer camp experience but with no parents around, and suspicious teachers circling, they are sucked into a whirlwind adventure they could’ve never expected. But why are they at the center of it? Who can they truly trust?
In the first installment of the PPG’s adventures, we meet siblings Aime and Oro, and their classmates Semia, Violer, and Gramon as they begin their six week stay at S.O.F.T. With a long list of strict rules the students must abide by, the summer seems to be like it’s going to be slow, boring, and tedious, until they find themselves at the center of a decades-old mystery about the school. As the students’ friendships develop, we see their personalities shine. The characters have great chemistry on the page, and the dialogue is witty, sharp, and funny.
The students of S.O.FT. are separated into “houses”: Fig, Lemon, Pear, Blueberry, and Blackberry. Using fruit as symbols for the divisions of the schools, as well as the corresponding colors to each fruit add a unique, whimsical element to the book. A more in-depth breakdown of each house, what they represent, why the divisions are important to the school, and how the students are sorted into them, would have helped to build this world even more and clarify the student’s role in it.
From students being sorted into “houses,” the houses able to earn “points,” one teacher on school grounds that’s allowed to keep animals, readers may recognize that there are some elements that are reminiscent of the Harry Potter series. With a diverse cast of characters and a puzzle-like quest, PPG: The Secret of the Orchard has more than enough unique qualities to set it apart.
The book is chockfull of tasty descriptions of the fruits and food that the students study. But some of our favorite descriptions are at the beginning of the novel, when we see the school for the first time. The mood is serious, uneasy, and there’s subtle tension that sets the tone for the school environment. It doesn’t last long, though, because as soon as our main characters begin exploring the school, the mood transforms into an exciting, puzzle-style mystery.
As readers, we’re privy to information from many different characters, good and bad, so we’re able to join in and piece together clues to understand what secrets could be lurking among the school staff. Having more than one character to connect with makes the reading experience more enjoyable because we get to see different sides of the school and different sides of the mystery. With so many unanswered questions throughout the novel, at times, we wished there was a little less setup and a little more payoff to help progress the storyline and give us more to work with when unraveling the school’s secrets.
Pentagon Pirate Gang: The Secret of the Orchard is a whimsical adventure novel perfect for readers who love quests, surprises, and fruit! Middle-grade readers will be sure to enjoy this exciting hunt for clues and answers to decode the mystery behind their eccentric summer camp. At the School of Fruit Teaching, secrets are lurking, and readers of Pentagon Pirate Gang: The Secret of the Orchard will discover how the power of friendship is the key to uncovering it all.
This Editorial Review was written by the Book Review Directory staff. To receive a similarly honest, professional review for one of your own books, click here.