Title: The Secret Signal | Series: Hal Junior #1 | Author: Simon Haynes | Publisher: Bowman Press | Pub. Date: 2011-10-1 | Pages: 186 | Genre: Kids Sci-Fi | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Source: Self-Purchased
The Secret Signal
Hal Junior lives aboard a futuristic space station. His mum is chief scientist, his dad cleans air filters and his best mate is Stephen ‘Stinky’ Binn. As for Hal – he’s a bit of a trouble magnet. He means well, but his wild schemes and crazy plans never turn out as expected! Hal Junior: The Secret Signal features mayhem and laughs, daring and intrigue … plus a home-made space cannon!
The Secret Signal Review
The Secret Signal is the first book in the Hal Junior series by Simon Haynes. The main character is a pure little rascal who has an absolute talent for finding himself in trouble. He blows off his homework, follows his impulses, and generally creates havoc. But, he can’t be too bad, can he? The stuff he does is minor, and the rules that he understands the reasoning for he pays attention to. When push comes to shove, Hal is there to do anything he can to help. Of course, like all kids he thinks he’s a bit more capable than he is, but one can’t fault him for that.
I liked reading The Secret Signal. It was a quick, fun read. Being a kids book, you have to turn a blind eye to some of the goings on, but that was easy enough to do. As long as I think a story might get a kid interested in science fiction, I’m able to overlook a lot. Pretty much the moment the story opens, the action starts. I got a kick out of the Star Trek like saves in the story. One should never underestimate the power of reversing the polarity! It’ll save you every time. Also, the dialogue was appropriate, and the author used the story to teach kids a few new words they might not have been aware of the meaning of in a rather silly fashion.
The AI that ran the ship was mouthy and funny. Its remark about “I should replace you all with nice clean robots” had me snickering. The adults were pretty much caricatures, but that was to be expected. I did like that the parents (well, the dad at least) continued to parent even when things were going sideways. Yeah, he might not have been listened to, but at least he tried instead of giving in and doing the “Follow me and do exactly as I say!” bit. And I liked that at the conclusion, once the day was saved, an appropriate level of fuss was made to Hal. He might have wanted a medal, but what he got was much more realistic.
Overall, a fun, easy to read story that is perfect for adventurous and imaginative young readers that like the idea of saving the day. Especially those who can identify with the kids whose hearts are in the right place, but their behavior quite often isn’t.