The Explorer by Katherine Rundell is a hugely enjoyable read. Wonderful writing brings a vivid world to life, creating a gripping adventure and convincing characters who develop and grow. This award winning novel combines excitement and quiet thoughtfulness. I loved it and would highly recommend it to young readers.
When four children find themselves abandoned in the Amazon Rainforest following an air crash they are forced to pull together as a team in order to survive. Without adult help they must rely on their own limited knowledge and initiative to cope with threats from snakes, piranha, tarantulas and much more besides. The children, Fred who has always found the idea of exploration exciting, prickly and irritable Con and brother and sister Lila and Max gradually learn that they can be braver than they ever imagined.
Katherine Rundell has a gift for creating a world that feels real in her stories and in this book she has drawn on her own personal experiences of the Amazon to do so. This book is packed full of information wrapped up in a very exciting adventure. Readers will learn how important it is to value our environment and to care for it responsibly. Although the story is set many years ago this message definitely has a relevance today and will open children’s eyes to the beauty of the wider world.
The characters are wonderful in their realistic feel, displaying emotions that you would expect such youngsters to feel. Poor snotty little Max is whiny at times, Con gets irritated and angry, Fred makes some mistakes and Lila is so fiercely protective of Max that she may not understand the others attitude to him. As the story progresses these children develop and mature in a manner that young readers will learn much from. There is a sensitivity to the story that runs through all the trials and adventures the children endure.
This is the sort of book that I would have lapped up as a child and even though I’m long past being in the target age group I still loved it. A remarkable story, beautifully told this deserves to be in every school library and classroom.
From a teaching point of view this would work brilliantly as a read-aloud in the classroom and also to link with the topic of the rainforest or conservation. The publishers, Bloomsbury, have kindly created a resource pack for teachers which is freely downloadable here
Katherine Rundell has also featured in an interview talking about the inspiration behind the book.
As a school librarian I have collected a selection of links to websites on the topic of rainforests which may be helpful in the classroom for research projects or to provide more background information linked to The Explorer. Please click on the images below to visit the relevant websites.