14 November 2012, Philomel
Nominated for the Cybils by Michael Scotto
In this sequel to We Are Not Eaten by Yaks, twins Celia and Oliver Navel are back, reluctantly being sent on adventures. This time, they are in search of their mother, who has run off to find the Lost Library of Alexandria, and are frequently forced to accompany Sir Edmund on dangerous trips because their adventurer father lost a bet to him. They start by almost being killed in Incan ruins my booby trapped khipus, and then, when their father is kidnapped, continue on in the company of daredevil reality show start (and Celia's crush) Corey Brandt along the Amazon River, and meet perils at every page-- poisonous and lethal animals, deadly waters, and attacks by reportedly cannibalistic tribes. Sir Edmund tries to sabotage their efforts, but being the resourceful (and well versed in television survival shows) children that they are, they triumph.
And yes, despite a dream sequence when the twins have a hallucination after taking some tropical drug, this is technically reality, as unlikely as the adventure is.
Strengths: Middle grade children in orphan mode? Check? Nonstop action and gross situations involving fire ants, mud, and other slimy substances? Check. Evil villains? Check. Illustrations? Check. This has all the elements of a great birthday book for a middle grade boy. London is a great writer, and even though he almost lost me at Snack Cakeville, now I want to read the book about Fordlandia!
Weaknesses: This falls into the category of boy-goofiness-I-don't-understand. In the universe where everyone does what I tell them to, Mr. London spends all of his time writing military books like Dog Tags, and Scholastic publishes them in decent, hardcover editions!