Author: Jan Welborn-Nichols
Illustrator: Susan Bachman
Henrietta Sharp and the Magic Lunch Box is a book for pre-teens. The story revolves around a seventh grader Henrietta Sharp or Henri and her adventures along with her best friend Taffy, cousin P.J. Adams and a faithful mentor, the magic lunch box or L.B. for short.
Henri was a very bright student, but she lacked confidence because she did not have an attractive physique. One fine day she had strange experiences at school where see felt the walls to be moving. Back home she found a magic lunch box in her room which told her that she is a ‘Traveler’ and that she has the power to open portals and travel to far reaches of the universe. She told this to her friend and her cousin and together they, under the able guidance of L.B. and a life sized doll, Olive set out on a mission to save Earth from the wrath of the evil.
'Spoiler alert'...Through the journey, the kids meet a number of interesting people, like Sir Brocco Lee, McCauly Flower and so on and a few bad people like Max Nightingale. They have a lot of adventure and the three kids discover their latent talents. It is interesting how the story reveals through many twists and turns.
The book has a striking likeness with the Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling and ‘The Dragonfly Prophecy’, by Jacquelyn Castle. All the three books have a kid with superpowers of which he/she is not aware of until someone special turns up out of nowhere and tells him/her about them. All the three had doting parents and had friends play a major role in their lives. The ‘committee’ of ‘Henrietta Sharp and the Magic Lunch Box’, the ‘ministry of magic’ of the Harry Potter series and the ‘commission’ of ‘The Dragonfly Prophecy’ play almost the same role. Like Rowling, Nichols has also used the nomenclature that is often a crooked form of a meaningful word that describes the thing. For instance, Grymvald could stand for ‘grim world’; Brocco Lee could come from ‘broccoli’ and so on.
The book has a few very funny instances, the funniest being when Henri thought, “What just happened? My enemy is my grandfather, my grandmother is right here but not really, my great aunt is a doll, and my mom doesn’t remember any of this. Nothing makes any sense.”
A wonderful pastime read, ‘Henrietta Sharp and the Magic Lunch Box’ is surely a book every child would love.