There is something quintessentially English about a group of children who are into bird-watching I think, especially when combined with all the other great things going on in this series. A diverse cast of characters, an appealing setting where the kids can roam in their own private forest at will, navigating the sometimes not clear-cut avenues of friendship, thrilling adventures and a mystery to solve, all combine to make this an irresistable read to middle school kiddos.
We know that mystery and crime stories for younger readers are booming at present but the point oif difference with the focus on children who care for nature and apply their knowledge in a positive way makes for a thoroughly charming twist.
When Jack comes across a badly hurt cat he suspects that the injury is deliberate – but who could be responsible for such a cruel act? He knows this is another opportunity for the Twitchers to do some investigating but there is soon even more to investigate when the expected arrival of one of the most rarely seen birds is threatened by a local wildlife poacher. The children rally their full force and put their minds to a well thought out plan that will, with any sort of luck, save both the local cats and the magnificent lammergeier.
This is a top notch adventure for readers from around Year 3ish upwards especially those that like their stories action-packed! It would be best read after the first so that your kiddos know the characters and backstory but this is not completely necessary.
Caesar the War Dog #3: Operation Pink Elephant – Stephen Dando-Collins
Imprint: Random House Australia Children’s
Extent: 288 pages
Everyone’s favourite canine hero, Caesar, is back and off on another serious mission with his buddy, Ben.
The Global Rapid Reaction Responders (GRRR) are shocked to find out that their friend Lucky, who is currently working for the Tanzanian Government as a wildlife ranger, has been kidnapped by notorious elephant poachers. These evil men, led by a particularly vile ‘General’, not only show a complete lack of compassion and morals regarding the elephants but also intimidate local villagers, kidnap children and force them to train as ‘soldiers’ and treat the wildlife rangers with contempt and violence.
It is up to the GRRR team to track down these nefarious wrong-doers and rescue Lucky and save the elephants. Ben and Caesar execute a risky parachute jump into a rough sea to meet up with the rest of team on HMAS Canberra and the adventure begins. On landing in Tanzania the team begin to put together clues and set upon the trail of poachers. Caesar’s expert nose is really going to be the advantage to Ben and his team as they track down their good friend and the illegal cargo of ivory.
These are terrific books for boys who are not so keen to read. They are fast-paced, with a vocabulary that is not too demanding. There is enough action and suspense to sustain the thirst for adventure without being disturbingly graphic. Stephen Dando-Collins has an effective connection with his readership and it has been my observation that when I suggest one of his titles to my boys, they are keen for more when they have finished.
In addition, this title encourages readers to think about several very important ethical issues.