CM . . . .
Volume VII Number 14 . . . . March 16, 2001
We headed back to our tent. There were no sharks on land to worry about - just some falling coconuts, malaria-bearing mosquitoes, and snakes in the trees. I eyed some hanging vines suspiciously.Written in the first person in journal-like fashion, Jungle Islands chronicles the real-life adventures of a husband and wife team from British Columbia who embark on a kayaking trip through the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific Ocean. Through the generous hospitality of local villagers, the authors are introduced to the lifestyle of the islands' inhabitants, their traditions, food, homes, culture, schools and history. A trip to Skull Island, on which lie the skulls of tribal chiefs and other people, yields information about head-hunting expeditions, slavery practices and the introduction of Christianity to the islanders. Other highlights of the trip include swimming in breathtakingly beautiful coral reefs (complete with sharks), watching a huge sea turtle lay her eggs in the sand at night, and getting up close to a flying fox and a bad-tempered crocodile. After a travel experience about which most readers can only dream, the couple find themselves in a predicament - they have missed the ferry that will take them to the city in which they are to catch their flight home. So they undertake a grueling 30-hour kayak trip in open water to the next town in order to catch another ferry, only to arrive there and discover that, for some reason, the ferry has left early. Thankfully, a policeman comes to their rescue, securing for the pair a ride to an airstrip where they take a bush plane to make their connecting flight. Despite being plagued by sunburn, aching muscles and potentially dangerous situations, the couple maintains a positive outlook throughout their trip.
The book is divided into nine chapters with several sub-headings. It flows sequentially from the initial planning stages of the trip to the final flight home after a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The journalistic style of the text matches the story perfectly. Written in kids' language, the text is easy to follow and to understand. Maps, interspersed with the text, trace the routes taken by the adventurers while fantastic colour photographs, all suitably labelled, give readers a clearer idea of island life and the flora and fauna of the Solomons. Sidebars offer additional information. An index and a brief list of related web sites are also provided.
A most interesting read!
Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian at Bird's Hill School in East St. Paul, MB.
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