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JAGUAR by Roland Smith


by Roland Smith

Pub Date: May 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-7868-0282-0
Publisher: Hyperion

The lush tropical rainforest serves as an unexpected but colorful setting for this sequel to Smith's Thunder Cave (1995, not reviewed). Jake Lansa, 14, is angry when his father, Robert ``Doc'' Lansa, leaves him in the care of a retirement home with his grandfather, while he goes off to a jaguar preserve in the jungles of Manaus, near Brazil. The early scenes in the retirement facility are humorous and touching, but the pace accelerates once Jake flies down for a visit with his dad. In one of the novel's most dramatic moments, a confrontation between father and son is interrupted by an explosion aboard the boat Doc has chartered. Jake is forced to become the ultralight pilot of the expedition, and to hire the mysterious Captain Silver to take them upriver. Jake's crash course in piloting is exciting, as is the journey. The rainforest in the background brings the plight of this endangered environment into focus for young readers: Smith's portrayal of the decimated forests, the filthy strip-mining towns, and the desolate native tribes is haunting. The mystery aboard ship unravels at a suspenseful pace, and while everyone must work together to insure their survival, Jake emerges a hero. A first-rate adventure about greed, mutual dependence, and family. (Fiction. 11-13)