This adventure novel recounts two American teen brothers’ encounters with tour guides, wildlife and armed poachers in Botswana’s Okavango Delta.
The brothers begin by introducing themselves, each in a short, engaging, humorous chapter that reveals their warm but occasionally antagonistic relationship as well as each brother’s qualities. Gannon, the more emotionally attuned of the two, and Wyatt, who is fascinated by science, are both home-schooled. Children of a flight attendant (Wheeler), the brothers have grown up believing that travel and “exploration” are the best ways to learn. Gannon and Wyatt describe their trip to Botswana in alternating journal entries that are simple and honest and reveal their enthusiasm, curiosity, broadening worldviews and occasional brotherly quibbles. The boys have a variety of adventures, some life-threatening. They meet the residents of a desert village and rethink their own water consumption, encounter an angry white rhino protecting her young, and Wyatt contracts a dangerously high fever while in the bush. The boys’ most harrowing adventure takes them into the wild with a pair of African tour guides to heal a mother lioness wounded by poachers. A confrontation between the group and a poacher armed with a machine gun provides a tense climax. Other moments are much lighter, such as Wyatt’s memorable fight with a crocodile that turns out to be a log and Gannon’s brotherly teasing. Professional-quality photographs of animals, landscape and the small plane the family used for travel illustrate the text. The high-quality accompanying DVD shows video footage of a village, wildlife and the flesh and blood Gannon and Wyatt talking about their travels. A few back pages are left blank for the reader’s own travel notes.
Young, would-be adventurers or armchair travelers will enjoy exploring with these two straightforward, engaging personalities—and will learn a lot in the process.