Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

The Explorer

The Explorer

Fall 2017 Fiction
Ages: 8 - 12 yrs.
Author: Katherine Rundell
ISBN: 9781481419451
Hardcover Price: $16.99

Katherine Rundell sold me at "Dear Reader," the introduction to her thriller of an adventure The Explorer. In a short note she extols the special allure of survival stories -- the stories where "mud-spattered children struggled to stay alive against the odds." The kind of stories whose great charm is in telling us "about why [life] is worth living in the first place."

Then she proceeds to make her case.

Fred, Con, Lily and Lily's younger brother Max are the sole survivors of a small plane crash that leaves them lost deep in the Amazon jungle. They have little hope of rescue, and must learn to survive quick. From the outset it's grim.

Among other things they encounter in the first 48 hours: deadly insects, giant snakes, piranha and fierce-toothed caiman. Also, there's a discouraging lack of food, unless you don't mind roasted tarantulas or chewy grubs. And surviving nature isn't their only challenge. They must also survive each other. Four strangers must learn to trust each other's strengths, weaknesses and abide each other's irritable traits. They all rise to the task in unexpected ways, and somehow manage against the odds.

A steady trail of intriguing clues hints that they aren't the first to have passed through and survived these parts, and those clues lead them to a mysterious, hidden city, where an altogether different adventure unfolds.

Rundell fills her pages up with enough snake slithers, monkey chatters and smells of mud, fire and rain to lure the most stubborn homebody into at least the backyard. It's pure candy for budding wanderlusts, and explorers of every sort.

Teresa DiFalco   ©2017 Parents' Choice
Teresa DiFalco is an award-winning ghostwriter, writer, and mother in Vancouver, Washington. She's been a contributing editor for Parents' Choice for over ten years. She's a strong speller, a menace at badminton, and makes a decent soufflé.

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