The Quest for the Kid
The Quest for the Kid
The best kinds of stories, as we all know, start with pigs in teeny hats. Then they continue and take you to far-off countries and involve great white sharks and K-pop bands. Some stories start in the middle of the sentence and with brand-new characters you’ve never met. And still others begin suddenly and unexpectedly with a random paragraph for some reason.
And if you’re really, really lucky, some stories combine all those things.
Sebastian has finally managed to escape from The Lost Boys (a K-pop band whose manager accidentally took him hostage during the events of The Reckless Rescue Evie and Catherine, who managed to escape from the Vertiginous Volcano before heading back to the headquarters of The Explorers Society, have found Benedict, another of the Filipendulous Five (a group of explorers who were expelled from the Society many years ago) and are now working with Sebastian to find the last two members of the team (Doris and The Kid) before they attempt to find her missing grandfather.
In order to find Doris and The Kid, Sebastian and Evie (with the help of Catherine and Benedict) have to infiltrate the Stunt Racing Association of Car-drivers, prove their worth to many bumbling and grudge-fueled adults, rescue a number of indentured actors who are stuck in an 1800s themed reality show, tame a Canadian opera singer whose method acting has gone a bit too far, and learn how to work together in the face of seemingly impossible odds. The adults learn that Sebastian and Evie, even though young, have much to contribute while the kids learn that the members of the Filipendulous Five have a much more complicated history than they ever imagined. And (Spoiler Alert!) Evie discovers things about her grandfather that force her to make some terrible decisions.
As with The Door in the Alley and The Reckless Rescue, Kress keeps up the pace in this third installment while giving almost all of the characters room to grow and develop meaningfully along the way. Although the grandfather shows up for a short period of time and is thus given very little on-the-page development, readers do manage to learn a lot about his past through discussions with other Explorers throughout their adventures. When Evie and Sebastian finally have the team back together, Doris explains a lot more of the complicated history of the group and why they split up in the first place, making Evie re-evaluate much of what she thought she knew about everything.
As in the previous books, the humorous footnotes in Quest for The Kid manage to bring levity to sometimes frightening or somber situations. When noting how pretentious landlines are, for instance, a footnote adds:
Though they weren’t nearly as full of themselves as rotary phones: Oh, don’t mind me. I’m just going to take as long as I feel like here, spinning back to the start. Just enjoy my magnificence while you wait. If you didn’t want to wait, you shouldn’t have dialed a nine.
And while it’s true that some of these references are more for adults, this is the kind of book that will work well as a read-aloud.
Although the ending of The Quest for the Kid wrapped up rather quickly, it finishes up in a mostly satisfying series of events. A few secondary characters seemed to disappear before fully being dealt with, and some of the adventures leading to the climax didn’t seem entirely necessary. But overall, Kress’s delightful and engrossing tale of adventure and intrigue will be sure to satisfy many a young reader’s appetite for fun and frivolity. Fans of “A Series of Unfortunate Events” will want to check this series out!
Rob Bittner has a PhD in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies (SFU), and is also a graduate of the MA in Children’s Literature program at The University of British Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia. He loves reading a wide range of literature, but particularly stories with diverse depictions of gender and sexuality.