Adam and the Arkonauts by Dominic Barker

Adam and the Arkonauts

Written by Dominic Barker

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The Lovereading4Kids comment

A fantastic new hero, and equally brilliant villain, from the master of both is coupled with hilarious one-liners and dialogue. Plenty of intrigue, a dastardly plot in which the evil professor Scabelax, seeking nothing less than world domination of not just humans but animals too, is set against a Adam, a young and ordinary boy but a boy with an unusual skill. Together with his friends some of which are rather opinionated characters including animals they set out to stop the villain of the story in his tracks.

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Adam and the Arkonauts by Dominic Barker

A brilliant young biologist Dr Seth Forest travels to South America with his wife and son, determined to solve the greatest mystery of the natural world, the secret of communicating with animals. He cracks the code, but triumph is short-lived when his wife is kidnapped. Ever since, the Dr and his son Adam (now fluent in many animal languages) have sailed the world searching for her, collecting many weird and wonderful animals along the way. For a long time they hear nothing, then at one of the ports they receive news that a woman matching Adam's mother's description left a letter with authorities in a city on the other side of the world. But the situation is not as straightforward as they hoped. In return for the letter, the all powerful mayor of the city wants a promise of the ingenous doctor's help. Someone has designed a fiendish method of depriving his citizens of sleep, threatening to turn them all slowly mad. The dastardly villain behind it is Professor Silas Scabelax. Like all good villains his long-term plan is world domination, beginning with his small-scale experiment in mind-control. But he wants more than your average villain.Unknown to Adam and the Doctor, Scabelax has deliberately lured them to the city. He is ready to dominate the world by controlling the people, but he also wants to control the animals ("And then I go after the plants!") and only the Doctor's communication powers will allow him to fulfill his evil desires. As the different elements of the plot converge, a spectacular finale awaits


Review of ‘Adam and the Arkonauts’ by Books for Keeps [4 stars]

This engaging comedy-adventure opens with an arresting prologue of high adventure which establishes just the right note of intrigue to lead the reader into the story. It then comes as a surprise when the story proper adopts a leisurely knockabout style, with large parts of the text given over to comic dialogue. This dialogue is highly amusing, although it might sometimes play better on the screen than on the page. Yet the story also has some meaningful points to make about growing up and family relationships which are all the more effective for being introduced relatively casually.

Will Forest, a scholar-adventurer in the Indiana Jones mould, has learnt how to converse with animals, but his secret is coveted by Professor Scabellex, an eccentric villain worthy of a James Bond story. Ten years previously, Scabellex kidnapped Forest’s wife. Subsequently, Forest, with his teenage son Adam, has spent the boy’s childhood searching the world for her on his ‘Ark of the Parabola’. They are accompanied by a boat-load of comical creatures including Simia, a monkey with a complex about Darwin; Malibu, the Hollywood cat; and Pozzo and Gogo, a pair of vaudevillian cross-talking parrots. The confrontation with Scabellex takes place in Buenos Suenos, a Marx Brothers caricature of a banana-republic complete with officious police-chief, lethal politics and rife nepotism. As the adventure develops, Adam is openly proud of his upstanding father but less certain about his grandfather, a freebooting ex-criminal who is a master of disguise. Not unexpectedly, the talking animals play a large part in saving the day, in ways that are as humorous as they are heroic.

The book clearly reflects Dominic Barker’s former careers as stand-up comedian and school-teacher, glorying equally in music-hall humour and adventure-yarn traditions in a way that is knowing without being ironic. It also shows young Adam coming to terms with the adult world through his family and friends, who include the ever-resourceful and daring Anna, who is deaf. The broad but good-natured humour, together with the action set-pieces, should appeal to children from a wide age-range. At the end, the door is held open for a sequel, which promises to be just as enjoyable.

About the Author

Dominic Barker

Dominic Barker was born in 1966 in Southport only months after England won the World Cup. He studied English at Birmingham University, and subsequently was a stand-up comic with the likes of Frank Skinner and Alan Davies, then a secondary school teacher, before writing his first series for young readers about a teenage detective, Mickey Sharp. Dominic has since written three anarchic spoof-quests featuring the hapless hero Blart (the boy who didn’t want to save the world) and is currently working on a new stand alone novel called Adam and the Arkonauts. Dominic lives in Spain.

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Dominic Barker
More books by Dominic Barker


Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

Publication date

3rd May 2010




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