Journey to the Last River

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.

The Lost Book of Adventure

The Lost Book of Adventure
edited by Teddy Keen
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

Those with a thirst for wild adventures in particular will be immediately attracted to this stupendous tome. Others of us will perhaps take a little more time to be enticed in, but will likely become equally immersed in this amazing collection of notes, sketches and factual snippets that have been drawn, so we’re told by the editor, from the notebooks of the Unknown Adventurer.

Whether or not the claim by Teddy Keen to have discovered these items in a metal container while exploring a remote part of the Amazon, is a beguiling means of interesting readers in the book, or a fact, is immaterial.

What he has produced is a veritable treasure trove detailing all you need to know to flourish living in the wild, be it how to construct a wikiup shelter like those of the Nenet people of Arctic Siberia;

how to make a bottle raft to navigate ancient waterways; or, what the best techniques are for ‘pooing in the great outdoors;

or crucially important, first aid.

Prepare to be conveyed to various parts of the globe as you read lyrical accounts of such adventures as a narrow escape from the jaws of a crocodile in Sri Lanka, surviving a roaring dust storm, or an eye-ball to eye-ball encounter with one of the planet’s most dangerous snakes, a venomous bushmaster. Each of these is gloriously illustrated in a coloured pencil drawing.

Keen certainly succeeded in arousing the spirit of adventure in this reviewer; I’m sure that will be the case for many readers of this totally immersive volume.