________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 19. . . .January 18, 2013


Amazon Adventure.

Willard Price.
London, UK: Red Fox Books (Distributed in Canada by Random House of Canada), 1951/2012.
317 pp., trade pbk., $10.95.
ISBN 978-0-099-48226-0.

Grades 4Ė8 / Ages 9-13.

Review by Deborah Mervold.

**** /4



This was his fifth trip to South America, but it was the first for his two sons, Hal and Roger. And yet there were not quite new to the animal game. Hal had hunted mountain lions in Colorado and Mexico, and both he and his younger brother had tended the collections in their fatherís Long Island supply zoo, where animals brought back from exploration trips were kept until they were bought by zoos, circuses, or museums.


John Hunt has travelled all over the world exploring different areas and bringing out animals and birds which he then supplies to zoos. John has two sons, with Hal starting university and Roger, who is four years younger than Hal, being on a school holiday. At the beginning of the trip, John receives an ominous cable warning him to give up the trip down the Pastaza River which is one of the headwaters of the Amazon. Hal also believes that he is being followed and is wary about the start. Shortly after they begin the journey, John must return home because there has been a fire which has destroyed his collection of animals. The boys decide to continue because Hal also wants to map the uncharted areas that they plan to travel through.

At the beginning of their trip, the boys are aided by the indigenous people of the area. The aboriginal, uneasy about going through certain areas, leave the boys to continue on their own. The boys find a number of animals, including a jaguar, several snakes, a stork and an iguana. They are also pursued by the villainous Croc who plans to steal the animals that they have captured. Later, they find that Croc has been responsible for the problems that John Hunt has faced. At one point, Croc steals their boat, called the Ark, and all the animals, leaving the brothers alone without transportation in the jungle. The boys use their ingenuity to outwit Croc and bring the adventure to a successful conclusion.

     Amazon Adventure is the first of 14 adventure stories originally written in the 1950ís by Willard Price and recently reprinted. His background in natural history, ethnology and exploration is evident as he writes about the Amazon in South America and also the collection of animals. Some of his writing is now politically incorrect, especially in the descriptions and behavior of the aboriginal people, but this doesnít take away from the adventure and authenticity of the information about the animals.

     The 27 chapters are generally 10-15 pages in length and have titles which develop the plot. The pen and ink illustrations add interest to the text. The characters of Hal and Roger are realistic as they continue the journey without their father and fight cannibalistic Indians, piranhas, crocodiles and an anteater. The sibling rivalry is apparent, and Roger has a sense of humour which is sometimes misdirected. Hal is young to have the responsibility for the voyage, but the story is developed in a believable way. The story concludes with the boys planning on a trip to the South Seas next year where they hope to capture an octopus, dive for pearls and get shipwrecked on a desert island.

      Amazon Adventure would appeal to a variety of readers, including readers of mystery (the inclusion of Croc), adventure (the journey down the Amazon), wildlife stories (information about the animals collected) and realistic fiction (the story of two brothers working together to assist their father). Younger readers may enjoy the book as a read-aloud choice, and older readers (Grade 8 and above) would enjoy the adventure. Readers older than Grade 8 could also enjoy the content of the book. It would be an excellent addition for personal, class, school and public libraries.

Highly Recommended.

Deborah Mervold, an educator from Shellbrook, SK, is now doing faculty training and program development at Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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