Leopard Adventure by Anthony McGowan
|Leopard Adventure by Anthony McGowan|
|Genre: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Linda Lawlor|
|Summary: Twelve-year-old Amazon and her cousin Frazer are recruited to work with the mysterious Tracks organisation. In this, their first adventure, they set off together into the Russian wilderness to rescue a rare and endangered Amur leopard and her cubs from a forest fire.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: July 2012|
|External links: Author's website|
For older readers, the name Willard Price will bring to mind classic wild-life adventures in exotic locations. The heroes were two brothers, Hal and Roger Hunt, and now, 125 years after the birth of the man who created them, we meet their children. Young cousins Amazon and Frazer are destined, like their fathers, to travel the world, rescue endangered animals and battle against the adult greed and thoughtlessness which threatens fragile eco-systems. The settings, the issues and the gadgets are completely up-to-date: what remain from the old stories are the excitement and the danger.
The wise and the good who decide these things had the common sense to invite Anthony McGowan to bring the Willard Price legacy into the twenty-first century. The author of such superb novels as Henry Tumour and The Knife That Killed Me, both highly recommended by Bookbag, has turned his hand to distant climes and thrilling experiences as if he'd been writing nothing else all his life. He has the happy knack of combining serious subject matter and a wide range of characters with a lightness of touch, and the result is a tale Price himself would be proud of. And the good news is, more adventures are promised in the future for Amazon and Frazer.
It would be interesting to discover whether or not Anthony McGowan has actually visited the places he talks about in this book. The settings feel utterly authentic, full of the small and telling details which create a sense of authenticity, and so vivid are his descriptions that the reader too is made to feel wholly present in the experience. You can almost smell the smoke from the forest fire as it crackles on the horizon, see the eyes of unknown creatures as they watch, unblinking, from the undergrowth, and hear the soft, menacing tread of predators (human and animal) as they track our heroes. We even, at times, enter the mind of the animals themselves as they observe these strange, two-legged mammals which have invaded their territory, and wonder if they would be good for lunch!
This book, unlike those mentioned above, is aimed at a younger readership, and much of the sharp wit, the sardonic comments and the humour to be found in McGowan's books for teenagers would be out of place here. The aim in this series is strictly adventure, with straightforwardly nasty villains and a clear and honourable task for the protagonists to accomplish. The bonus for the young reader is an excellent (and painless) education in some of the issues involved in saving certain species.
Parents will enjoy reading these books with their children, and those who were fans of the earlier stories will be delighted to recognise certain elements and even people they encountered when they curled up with a torch under the bedclothes to read just one more chapter themselves. There's plenty to enjoy and to discuss, and many a young reader will be inspired to turn to reference books and websites to learn more about the creatures and the terrain mentioned here. Definitely recommended for those long summer holidays.
Fans of adventures involving young eco-warriors will enjoy SOS Adventure: Fire Storm by Colin Bateman. And for further thrilling escapades in exotic locations, try the Laura Marlin Mysteries: Kidnap in the Caribbean by Lauren St John.
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