Pearly Woe’s tummy bubbles with worries and she grapples with this as an Adventurologist in training. Self-doubt and pestering worries have no place when you are accompanying your experienced Adventurologist parents and grandpa to the fictious Kingdom of Anachak in a mountainous, dense jungle beside the Mekong River to the remote village of Ban Noa to find an ancient lost city. ‘Pearly and Pig and the Lost City of Mu Savan’ is the second thrilling action-packed adventure, full of twists and turns and brimming with rich and vivid descriptions, in Sue Whiting’s Pearly and Pig series. This story, for students in Years 3-5 will have readers cheering Pearly on as they immerse themselves in her adventure and voyage of self-discovery. Pearly’s bravery is constantly put to the test and she rises to each challenge, employing strategies to help her cope with her worries and fears. She is supported by her empathetic Mum, protective Dad, wise Grandpa Woe and she receives blazing encouragement from her best friend Pig who can smell trouble and communicate with Pearly. Readers will be able to draw a plethora of text to self connections as this story explores themes relating to adventure, courage and bravery, working together as a team to overcome obstacles and achieve a goal, family dynamics and trusting your abilities.

This is a personal mission for the Woe family of Adventurologists as Grandpa Woe has a deep connection to the people and King of Ban Noa. Their mission quickly takes an unexpected turn when they arrive in what used to be Ban Noa. It is now deserted and seems to have vanished. The friendly people and welcoming King Alung Chu have disappeared. The village has been replaced by jungle that is swarming with monkeys who do not take kindly to anyone in their territory.

Pearly is a Hyperologlot (meaning she can fluently speak many languages) as she speaks twenty-seven languages including animal ones. Pearly’s ability to communicate with animals comes in very handy as she attempts to talk with and gather information from the monkeys. Wah-Wah, a bold macaque’s from Ban Noa, informs Pearly that he knows where the humans are. After some debate her family decide to follow him in search of the Ban Noan people.

The Woe’s are led straight to a hostile encounter with six Anachakan’s. It quickly becomes evident that the Ban Noa Grandpa Woe so fondly remembers, has different rulers now who command the Woe family to be imprisoned as the new king (King Alung Chu’s brother, the nefarious King Foom Chu) shouts that “the jungle is swallowing anyone who travels too far from Ban Noa”. He claims the Divine Sow (Pig’s mother) is displeased and the Balance has been disturbed. The villagers experience the earth rumbling during the night which frightens them and this fear seems to paralyse them and ensures they do not disturb the Balance further. As experienced Adventurologists the Woe family hatch a plan to continue their mission in search of the ancient lost city, King Alung Chu and his children, Prince Keej and Princess Jong.

Their plan succeeds and the Woe’s are given permission to search for Mu Savan, however they are given an ultimatum, “don’t return until you have restored the Balance and pleased the Divine Sow”.

Executing the best laid plans sees mishaps occur, villains introduced that add to the suspense and drama, gripping plot twists unfold and most importantly sees Pearly shine as a resourceful, creative, resilient, indomitable Adventurologist. Pearly’s ability to connect with animals who come to trust her pays dividends.

This hopeful story has a beautiful message about trusting in your abilities and would make an exceptional read aloud book as it is highly absorbing with its cliffhanger endings in each short chapter. It would be a gateway to discussions about courage, teamwork, overcoming obstacles, environmental protection, injustices and ancient cultures. The story entices readers to question how they would respond to the moral dilemmas the main characters face. It is a highly recommended book and an unforgettable experience to an ancient city.

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