Sunday, September 18, 2011

Book 10 - City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende - The Amazon, Brazil

It is interesting how different these three covers are - all three give a different feel for the story within.  This is the story of fifteen year old Alex who is sent to stay with his Grandmother while his mother is undergoing treatment for cancer. Alex's Grandmother is not your usual grandparent. She is a writer for International Geographic and prefers that Alex call her Kate. What she lacks in the expected care and concern from a grandmother she more than makes up for in adventure and teaching Alex independence and self reliance. She takes him with her on expedition to Brazil, to track a yeti-like creature reported to inhabit remote portions of the Amazonian jungle. Alex and Kate become part of a group of journalists, an anthropologist, a doctor who is trying to save the natives from western diseases, a guide and his twelve year old daughter Nadia (pictured on the cover on the right). Nadia and Alex become close friends and through a series of dramatic events they get kidnapped by a local tribe and come face to face with the terrifying yeti creatures. Throughout the entire adventure Alex changes from a mollycoddled child to a young man who oversomes his fears, prejudices and dislike of most foods on offer in the jungle.

This novel has had mixed reviews. I enjoyed the mix of adventure and magic but must admit that some characters are stereotypes - the anthropologist in particular and the people trying to exploit the resources found in the Amazon. I am not sure how students will receive this book - I have suggested it as a resource for a grade 6 unit of Inquiry on Anthropology. It would make for interesting discussion.

For a positive review read Teenreads point of view