Journey to the Last River
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Teddy Keen edits a spin-off from The Lost Book of Adventures, an Amazon adventure presented in the form of a scrap book journal belonging to ‘The Unknown Adventurer.’ Smudgy, apparently finger-marked pages and ‘handwritten’ text add authenticity.
Again the written account grips the reader from the start as you learn that the adventurers (the writer, and Bibi who grew up somewhere in the region) are staying in a wooden outhouse belonging to a local villager, preparing for their six week canoe trip into the rainforests. They’ve got the original map ‘borrowed’ from The Geographical Society to help them search for that Last River and discover its secret. The writer hasn’t mentioned this to his companion; instead he’s led her to believe that he’s an artist adventurer.
There’s certainly drama aplenty including an unexpected encounter with a man who draws the supposedly non-existent river in the sand with a stick and Bibi recognises a few of his words including ‘wait’, ’rains’ and ‘guide’ before disappearing again. The two travellers are heartened and eager to continue however.
Continue they do and just over two weeks into their journey they acquire a new crew member, a squirrel monkey that they name Nutkin.
The days pass and the two begin to despair of ever finding what they’re searching for; but then comes the lightning followed by torrential rain.
Suddenly a realisation dawns: perhaps their journey isn’t in vain after all …
Brilliantly illustrated with powerfully atmospheric scenes of the Amazon flora and fauna,
as well as the elemental spreads, there’s a lot to learn from this book with its important final conservation message. Readers will be enthralled by the detail included in both the words and visuals, as well as by seeing the transformative effect the trip has on the ‘writer’.
A superb book that offers huge potential to upper KS2 classes in particular.