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Seven Professors of the Far North

Seven Professors of the Far North

4.0 9
by John Fardell

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When Sam visits Zara and Ben and their great-uncle, the quirky inventor Professor Ampersand, he never expects to embark on a fantastical adventure. But when Professor Ampersand and his group of professor friends are kidnapped by the evil Professor Murdo, it's up to Sam, Zara, and Ben to save them. They have only three days in which to journey to an icy, desolate


When Sam visits Zara and Ben and their great-uncle, the quirky inventor Professor Ampersand, he never expects to embark on a fantastical adventure. But when Professor Ampersand and his group of professor friends are kidnapped by the evil Professor Murdo, it's up to Sam, Zara, and Ben to save them. They have only three days in which to journey to an icy, desolate land and uncover Murdo's sinister plot. Only then can they save the professors— and the fate of the whole world.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In debut novelist Fardell's (whose cartoons have appeared in Viz and the Herald, among other publications) lightning-paced, skillfully streamlined caper, he introduces Professor Ampersand, an affable, absent-minded inventor. The professor tells great-niece Zara, great-nephew Ben and their 11-year-old houseguest, Sam, how he and six other academics, all scientists or inventors, were once tapped to be the founding professors of a new university located on the Arctic island of Nordbergen. After the others discovered that Professor Murdo was planning to perform deadly experiments on a baby, the villainous fellow forced his six colleagues onto a plane and abandoned them in the icy wilderness. Now, 35 years later, Murdo, headquartered in Nordbergen, has discovered a way to create a superhuman species and a virus that will eradicate the existing human race. While gathering at Ampersand's Edinburgh home to discuss Murdo's current lethal research, the six remaining professors are kidnapped by the villain's men. Zara, Ben and Sam make a plan to rescue Ampersand and his friends, and the journey takes up most of the novel. Plenty of excitement accompanies them across Europe into Russia, followed by a ski-boat trip across icy waters and a thrilling ride in a submarine, and finally to Nordbergen, where a dramatic showdown awaits. Demonstrating a sure hand at fantasy, adventure and suspense, debut novelist Fardell has shaped a novel that smoothly blends all three. Ages 9-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
As eleven-year-old Sam is packing his rucksack with his Swiss army knife, binoculars, and a notebook full of drawings of inventions, he wonders if he will even use these items during a week-long stay with boring Great Aunt Roberta. But dread turns to excitement when his parents surprise him with an Easter break spent with their friend Professor Ampersand, his great niece Zara, and his great nephew Ben, instead. The professor is a remarkable inventor. By the time everyone gets to the professor's house, filled with marvelous inventions, Sam, Ben, and Zara are fast friends. But what starts out as a fun week turns into a dangerous adventure when the professor and five colleagues are kidnapped by evil Professor Murdo and taken to the icy island of Nordbergen in the Barents Sea. It's up to the three adolescents to follow clues, travel by secret underground rail, and arrive at Nordbergen to rescue the professors before they are killed on Wednesday--and it is Sunday now. Will they make it in time? Will they find friends to help them along the way? If they do arrive on time, how do they find the professors in the heavily fortified Arctic island? This debut novel is a wonderful, fast-paced adventure, filled with just the right mixture of whimsy and suspense that British writers seem to be so good at. Black and white drawings add to the reading pleasure. Middle readers will want to read many more by this talented writer. 2004, G.P. Putnam's Sons, Ages 9 to 12.
—Judy Crowder
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-Eleven-year-old Sam Carnabie is spending two weeks with the intriguing Professor Ampersand, an old family friend, and his young charges, Zara and Ben. Upon arrival in Edinburgh, Sam is amazed by the thousands of quirky inventions that the professor created in his fantastic home and learns about his host's intriguing past. Thirty-five years earlier, the professor and six colleagues had attempted to create the world's greatest university on an island nation called Nordbergen in the Arctic. One of them was evil Professor Murdo, who kidnapped his colleagues and left them to die. Fortunately, his plan didn't work. Unfortunately for Sam and the siblings, Professor Murdo's henchmen appear and again kidnap the six good professors, who have gathered at Ampersand's because of rumors of Murdo's reemergence. The children have only three days to rescue the professors and save the human race. Side stories involving Marcia Slick and her dreadful parents, who have paid a fortune to Nordbergen Research Enterprises to turn her into the "perfect" daughter, and several teenagers who aid Sam, Ben, and Zara culminate with the infiltration of the children into Murdo's lair. Comic relief is provided by Ampersand's cranky neighbor, who speaks in colorful Scots language. Action is nonstop and very exciting. This inventive, funny, suspenseful, and exciting book will appeal to most readers, especially fans of Dahl and Rowling.-B. Allison Gray, John Jermain Library, Sag Harbor, NY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Sam Carnabie, 11, is not thrilled at the prospect of staying with his great aunt Roberta while his parents attend a conference on new developments in canned vegetable technology. He jumps at the chance, instead, to stay with one of his parents' college professors, and his great niece and great nephew. What starts as a simple trip to Edinburgh ends with a frosty rescue mission to the frozen north that includes saving the world. An old enemy kidnaps Prof. Ampersand and five of his former colleagues. To save them, the children travel by secret underground railroad, ski boat and submarine. They arrive just in time to stop a madman from altering humanity's genetic makeup. Fardell's debut is Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet without the space travel. The pacing is slow in places and the description thick. The amount of adult help that the children need might turn off some American audiences, but there is humor and a slam-bang finish. The author's simple pen-and-ink illustrations are a definite plus. Large collections with well-read adventure seekers will want to add this to the shelf. (Fiction. 9-12)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.08(w) x 7.74(h) x 0.65(d)
Age Range:
10 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt


Eleven-year-old Sam Carnabie sat on the edge of his bed and finished packing his favorite things into his small rucksack. Actually, the rucksack itself was one of his favorite things. It was a recent present from his dad. Not a Christmas or birthday present either, but one of the I-saw-this-in-town-and-thought-you-might-like-it presents with which his dad occasionally surprised him. It was made of strong gray-blue canvas and brown leather and looked tough enough for a real expedition. Best of all, it had loads of compartments and side pockets with chunky brass zippers.

His ordinary stuff, such as clothes, toothbrush and comb, fitted easily into the main bag, leaving the side pockets free for his most prized possessions: a Swiss army knife (with fourteen different blades and tools, including screwdrivers, pliers and a small hacksaw) the binoculars he'd got for Christmas (really compact but very powerful) his combined-travel-alarm-clock-compass-and- magnifying-glass (water resistant to a depth of thirty meters) the flashlight he'd got for his last birthday (which could be set to white, red or green, wide beam, narrow beam, constant or flashing) Sam sighed. What a waste - all this stuff perfectly packed, the first Saturday of the Easter holiday and he wasn't going on a real expedition at all, but for a weeklong visit with his parents to his great-aunt Roberta's oppressively tidy house in Reading. Great-Aunt Roberta liked cats and china ornaments of cats but didn't much like children. Well, it couldn't be helped. Sam's parents, both food scientists, had to be in Reading for the week to attend a conference (New Developments in Canned Vegetable Technology), and all the school friends with whom Sam might have stayed were away for the holidays themselves.

Remembering from previous visits that there wasn't even a proper park near the house, Sam slipped some pencils, pens and a well-used notebook into the back of the rucksack. The notebook was half full of drawings he'd made of his inventions: a pedal-powered airship, a wind-driven cable-car system, that sort of thing. At least he'd have plenty of free time to draw some more.

The overcast weather did nothing to improve Sam's spirits as he put his rucksack onto the backseat of his parents' car. His mum had just brought the last suitcase out of the house and Sam was about to get into the car himself, when a bright yellow motorbike and sidecar swung round the corner and rumbled to a halt in front of them. Sam stared at the vehicle. It looked out of place in their ordinary Hertfordshire suburb. The massive bike was festooned with metal tubes, lamps, dials and dozens of complicated gadgets, the functions of which Sam could barely begin to guess. The sidecar was long and torpedo shaped, topped by a Perspex canopy. It looked to Sam just as if someone had sliced the middle out of a small airplane and streamlined the ends. The whole magnificent miscellany of sunshine yellow and shimmering chrome radiated an enticing smell of engine oil and old leather that made Sam's stomach tingle inside. The motorbike's rider, a gangly man wearing a blue greatcoat that had seen better days, gave a cheerful beep on the horn and waved to them. The sidecar's two passengers, a brown-faced boy and girl, also waved. Sam looked at his parents. They were smiling and waving back.

"Right on time," said Mr. Carnabie. What did he mean, right on time?

The rider pulled off his leather goggles and helmet, revealing a pink beaming face and a bald domed head, fringed with wiry white hair. As he dismounted, the boy and the girl hinged back the middle section of the sidecar's Perspex canopy and clambered out. The boy, Sam reckoned, was about his own age, the girl maybe a year older. Sam decided that, whoever these people were, he liked them.

"Professor Ampersand!" said Mrs. Carnabie, giving the old man a hug.

"It's great to see you!" exclaimed Mr. Carnabie, shaking the professor's hand warmly. "Sam," he went on, "this is an old friend, Professor Alexander Ampersand. He attempted to teach applied technology to me and Mum when we were at college. He's a remarkable inventor."

"Delighted to meet you at last, Sam," said the professor, shaking his hand.

"And this must be your great-niece and great-nephew - Zara and Ben, isn't it?" said Mrs. Carnabie.

"That's right," said Zara.

"Hello," said Sam, still somewhat perplexed.

"Uncle Alexander built this himself," said Ben proudly, noticing Sam looking at the motorbike and sidecar.

"Well, I sort of put it together from various bits and pieces," said the professor modestly, "and added one or two wee ideas of my own."

"Do you want a closer look?" Zara asked Sam.

"Yeah!" Sam walked over to the machine and examined it closely. He could almost feel what it would be like to hurtle along in the sidecar, strapped into one of the seats, which were arranged one behind the other in the long cockpit.

"Professor Ampersand rang us last night, after you'd gone to bed, Sam," explained Mrs. Carnabie.

"We've just been down in London for a couple of days," said the professor, "and I thought we'd drop in on our way back home to Edinburgh."

"When I told the professor that unfortunately we were going away ourselves," continued Sam's mum, "and happened to mention that you weren't exactly looking forward to it, he very kindly offered to have you stay with him and Ben and Zara in Edinburgh for the week."

"We were going to tell you first thing this morning," said Mr. Carnabie. "But then we thought it'd be fun to save it as a surprise."

"We'll miss you, of course," Mrs. Carnabie assured Sam. "But you might have more fun in Edinburgh. It's up to you. What d'you reckon?"

"I would," advised Ben. "Before they change their minds."

"We'll have a great time," promised Zara.

"You really mean it?" Sam asked his parents, a grateful grin breaking across his freckled face.

"You'd better get your bag," said Mr. Carnabie.

Scarcely able to believe his sudden change of fortune, Sam took his rucksack from the Carnabies' hatchback and dropped it into the cockpit of the gleaming yellow sidecar.

Meet the Author

John Fardell works as a freelance cartoonist, illustrator, designer and occasional puppeteer. A regular contributor to Viz (he is the creator of "The Modern Parents" and "The Critics" among others), his work has also appeared in The Independent, the List, the Herald, the New Statesman and the Evening Standard.

John Fardell lives with his wife and two sons in Scotland.

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Seven Professors of the Far North 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Seven Professors of the Far North is very inventive. This book is based on all sorts of inventions, wacky ideas, and adventures. Despite brief parts of the story being slightly dull, this is a perfect read for all future inventors!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend The 7 Professors of the Far North by John Fardell. I recommend this book because it is a great fantasy read, it has lots of action and has lots of humor. This book also has a sequel, The Flight of the Silver Turtle. This book has 217 pages and this book is set in Europe and some places in the Arctic. This book is also set in present times. In this book Sam (the main character) goes away to live with Professor Ampersand an inventor that his parents know. A simple vacation turns into an exciting adventure deep into the Arctic. Sam and Professor Ampersand¿ two nephews Ben and Zara go to rescue Professor Ampersand in the Arctic from an evil Professor Murdo. To stop Murdo from taking over the world they must use a secret code to get to the Arctic. The 3 main characters Ben, Sam and Zara all have differences. Sam is not stupid but is not as smart as Zara or Ben. But Sam always has his has his handy gadgets including his pocket knife and a few extra dollars when they come in handy. Zara is the oldest of the bunch and likes to be in control. She has a lot of people sense too. Zara does not like to make mistakes. Ben is really smart and has great mapping skills. He and Zara seem like they are the children of Professor Ampersand. My favorite scene is when Ben, Zara, and Sam are riding in the side car of Professor Ampersand¿s motorcycle. They are riding very fast and suddenly take a sharp turn and are heading straight toward the house, meanwhile Sam is screaming for his life and Zara and Ben are acting like they have done this a million times before. Suddenly out of nowhere comes are ramp that leads up to the window on the second floor but as they reached the ramp a loud explosion erupted and a shower of blue sparks came down from the top of the window. Luckily nothing got hurt expect for the ears because as soon as they got out of the sidecar the heard an enormous amount of yelling by there angry neighbor with an Irish accent. This is my favorite part because it has great humor and it shows you that there are many cool gadgets in this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read this book TODAY!!!!
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