Young, would-be adventurers or armchair travelers will enjoy exploring with these two straightforward, engaging...

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TRAVELS WITH GANNON AND WYATT

BOTSWANA

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.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1936284-00-9

Page Count: 144

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2010

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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.

HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL-NEW SEQUEL

In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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HATCHET

A prototypical survival story: after an airplane crash, a 13-year-old city boy spends two months alone in the Canadian wilderness. In transit between his divorcing parents, Brian is the plane's only passenger. After casually showing him how to steer, the pilot has a heart attack and dies. In a breathtaking sequence, Brian maneuvers the plane for hours while he tries to think what to do, at last crashing as gently and levelly as he can manage into a lake. The plane sinks; all he has left is a hatchet, attached to his belt. His injuries prove painful but not fundamental. In time, he builds a shelter, experiments with berries, finds turtle eggs, starts a fire, makes a bow and arrow to catch fish and birds, and makes peace with the larger wildlife. He also battles despair and emerges more patient, prepared to learn from his mistakes—when a rogue moose attacks him and a fierce storm reminds him of his mortality, he's prepared to make repairs with philosophical persistence. His mixed feelings surprise him when the plane finally surfaces so that he can retrieve the survival pack; and then he's rescued. Plausible, taut, this is a spellbinding account. Paulsen's staccato, repetitive style conveys Brian's stress; his combination of third-person narrative with Brian's interior monologue pulls the reader into the story. Brian's angst over a terrible secret—he's seen his mother with another man—is undeveloped and doesn't contribute much, except as one item from his previous life that he sees in better perspective, as a result of his experience. High interest, not hard to read. A winner.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1987

ISBN: 1416925082

Page Count: -

Publisher: Bradbury

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1987

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