Posted in Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Escaping Greenland: The #WonderListAdventures continue

Escape Greenland (The Wonder List Adventures #2), by Ellen Prager, Ph.D./Illustrated by Tammy Yee, (Apr. 2021, Tumblehome Learning), $13.95, ISBN: 978-1-943431-70-0

Ages 9-13

The second book in Dr. Ellen Prager’s new Wonder List Adventures takes siblings Ezzy and Luke to the next stop on their mother’s “Wonder List”: Greenland. The siblings and their father, who are visiting the places their mother wanted them to see for her when she passed away. After visiting the Galápagos Islands and finding themselves in the middle of a poaching ring in Escape Galápagos (2019), they’re hoping for a calmer vacation in Greenland. No such luck, my friends. Dr. Skylar, Ezzy’s and Luke’s dad, is called away to help out an injured researcher, just as the siblings overhear a plot to attract tourism by speeding up the melting of a glacier and find themselves in some very unfriendly company! In between once-in-a-lifetime adventures like seeing humpback whales breach (and being under them when they’re eating!), playing with puppies and getting a ride from sled dogs, they’re on the run from some pretty scary bad guys. Dr. Prager creates likable, interesting characters and uses her wealth of knowledge about marine science and climate change to put readers in the middle of the story with them. Settling her stories in incredible locales, she encourages environmental awareness by creating a love for the natural wonders of our planet and by spotlighting the very real types of people who would wreak ecological havoc through illegal and shady business practices, Dr. Prager sets readers’ sights on the big villain: personal gain.

The Wonder List Adventures is a good series to recommend to your Nat Geo Explorer Academy readers and your Carl Hiaasen readers. And fans of her previous series, Tristan Hunt and the Sea Guardians, will love the little Easter Egg she put in there!

 

Posted in Adventure, Fiction, Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Tween Reads

Ellen Prager’s got a new Conservation Adventure: Escape Galápagos!

Escape Galápagos, by Ellen Prager, (Oct. 2019, TumbleHome Learning), $13.95, ISBN: 9781943431557

Ages 8-12

I am so excited! I loved Ellen Prager’s Tristan Hunt and the Sea Guardians series (2015), so when she emailed me and told me she had a new book coming out, and wanted to send me a copy, I fangirled (just) a lot. I loved her combination of action/adventure and conservation in the Tristan Hunt books, so I dove into Escape Galápagos with glee; Dr. Prager is a scientist and an author, so she creates exciting stories and backs everything up with science and an understanding of nature and marine life, plus a genuine love and concern for our world that becomes contagious.

Escape Galápagos introduces readers to tween Ezzy Skylar, her younger brother, Luke, and their father, Dr. Skylar. Ezzy and her family are still reeling from their mother’s recent death, but their dad is determined to keep his promise: to take his children to all the places on his wife’s “wonder list”. First up: the Galapágos Islands. The problem? Ezzy is not a fan of animals out in nature. They’re too… wild. So a vacation roaming around in the Galapágos, with all its wild beauty and animals who just wander along freely, makes her very nervous. She won’t have long to worry about that, though; she’s got bigger problems when their cruise ship is hijacked by animal poachers. Ezzy, Luke, and Aiden, another boy on the cruise with his family, have to use their wits work together to save themselves, their families, and the animals on the Isabela Island.

Escape Galápagos is an exciting story with a conscience. As with the Tristan Hunt books, Dr. Prager shines a light on the villains we don’t always get to read about: those people whose main purpose is to get rich at the expense of the planet and its resources: in this case, the animals of the Galapágos. It’s a brilliant way of bringing conservation issues to light and making readers aware and engaged. Ezzy is a likable character who has to dig deep and overcome her fears and discomforts (which include tortoise poop. A lot of tortoise poop) to help save her father. Luke, her younger brother, is an interesting character to watch; he reminds me of Tristan Hunt, and I wonder (okay, I hope) if he has a similar “gift” to Tristan and his fellow Sea Guardians. How fantastic would it be if this were to take place in the Tristan Hunt universe?

In short, Escape Galápagos is a great new adventure for your realistic fiction readers and your fantasy readers that like reality-based fantasy. If you have any of Dr. Prager’s nonfiction books, display them and talk them up! Dr. Prager includes some real vs. made-up facts at the end of the book, which could make for a fun book discussion activity/Discovery Club activity.

Posted in Animal Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Intermediate, Middle Grade

Tristan Hunt graphic novel teaser!

Tristan Hunt fans! As if you weren’t already excited for the next chapter in the Tristan Hunt and the Sea Guardians series, here’s one more thing to look forward to: The Shark Whisperer graphic novel teaser included in Stingray City!

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Illustrated by Molly Murakami, The Shark Whisperer is going graphic – just like the Percy Jackson graphic novels, which bring exciting life to the unputdownable books – and you can find the first chapter on www.teamtristan.com RIGHT NOW. Come May, you’ll find Tristan and his first encounter with the shark tank, lovingly tucked into your copy of Stingray City. Will we get an online comic, or a full graphic novel version of the series? We can hope, right?

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In the meantime, take a look at the Shark Whisperer excerpt I’ve got here, or point your browser to www.teamtristan.com and follow Mighty Media on Pinterest for teacher and librarian resources.

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Posted in Animal Fiction, Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Tristan Hunt and friends return with Stingray City!

stingraycity-useStingray City, by Ellen Prager (May 2015, Mighty Media Press), $9.95, ISBN: 9781938063701

Recommended for ages 9-12

When we last left Tristan Hunt and his Sea Camp friends, they’d had a rough summer that included being held prisoner by a crazy scientist and being chased by their environment-menacing foe, billionaire JP Rickerton. Camp ended early to get the heat off the kids, but Tristan and his friends aren’t out of action just yet: there’s an emergency by Grand Cayman, where stingrays and other sea life are disappearing. Tristan, Hugh, Ryder, Sam, and Rosina are called in to investigate, but they may end up missing along with the stingrays they’re trying to locate!

This third installment is the most fun Tristan Hunt adventure yet. Ms. Prager has hit her stride with this third book; her writing flows smoothly and she’s as comfortable with these characters as they are with one another. There’s more joking around now; more confidence; the kids are a little more inventive with their strategies and bolder when it comes to taking initiative. Tristan isn’t quite as focused on his on-land clumsiness as he’s been in the past, and, being teenagers now, they’re also starting to notice one another.

The Jamaican-accents are back, too! This time, instead of sharks, we’ve got stingrays calling the kids “bobo” and “mon”, adding some more humor to the storyline. There are some tense moments and some straight-up James Bond-type stunts happening here, courtesy of a billionaire inventor introduced here. (The books take place around Grand Cayman, there are going to be millionaires, folks.)

Readers are going to get some harsh truths in this book: not everyone appreciates life. But that’s why Tristan and his friends work so hard to keep the waters safe. You’re going to read about some pretty terrible conditions that people inflict on sea life and people who try to stop them, but it’s nothing that a kid can’t handle, and hopefully, he or she will come away with a greater respect for our world and the creatures we share that world with.

Lots of great conservation and environmental messages here, some new questions introduced (I still have questions from the last book!), and overall, a big, fun read. A plus to your middle grade realistic fantasy (I know that’s not a genre, but it should be) collection.

Do you want your own Tristan Hunt starter set? Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for the chance to win books 1 and 2 (The Shark Whisperer and Shark Rider)!
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Posted in Adventure, Animal Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Tristan Hunt is back in The Shark Rider!

The boy who can talk to sharks is back at Sea Camp for another year in The Shark Rider!

When we last saw Tristan Hunt, he’d had a heck of a summer. He’d just learned that he was part of a very special group of kids: kids with underwater talents, whether it was the ability to speak to sharks, echolocation, the ability to communicate and change color like an octopus, or more. Invited to Sea Camp, a special summer camp that helped these kids develop their talents and do rescue work for the environment, Tristan and his friends ended up on the radar of J.P. Rickerton, a billionaire who leaves a trail of environmental havoc wherever he goes. This time out, though, the kids are a year older, a little more in command of their skills, and jump right into the adventure waiting for them.

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Tristan Hunt and the Sea Guardians, Book 2: The Shark Rider, by Ellen Prager, (May 2015, Mighty Media Press), $49.95, ISBN: 978-1938063510

Recommended for ages 8-12

This time, there’s an emergency situation near the British Virgin Islands. Fish are dying in large groups, and sponge are disappearing from the area. Tristan and his friends are dispatched to the scene to see what they can find out. Is J.P. Rickerton on the scene again? You have to read it to find out, but I will tell you that there’s another wacko billionaire businessman making his appearance in The Shark Rider! Some of our favorite sea creatures are back this time, too, including Hugh’s buddy, Old Jack the Octopus, but there are some new animals on the scene, too, including a vegetarian shark and a mantis shrimp with an anger management issue. Who may be my new favorite minor character ever, and possibly my new spirit animal.

Ellen Prager ramp up the action in this second book, throwing the kids right into the heart of things. Where the first book was a little bit of Harry Potter with a dash of Percy Jackson, The Shark Rider adds some James Bond to the fun, with but she also gives us new gadgets (robo-jellies!), intrigue, and filthy rich villains. We also learn more about our oceans and the animals we share them with, including some very British sharks whose personalities are a bit more buttoned-up than the Bahamian bunch we met last time, but still witty and up for a tussle with the bad guys. You’ll root for the good guys, hiss at the bad guys, and have a blast reading this story.

Don’t forget, author Ellen Prager is a marine scientist and children’s author, with an author webpage that budding conservationists and marine biologists will love!

Make sure to read The Shark Whisperer and The Shark Rider by May – Stingray City is coming!

 

Posted in Animal Fiction, Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

Tristan Hunt and the Sea Guardians: Middle Grade marine adventure!

shark whispererTristan Hunt and the Sea Guardians, Book 1: The Shark Whisperer, by Ellen Prager, (May 2014, Mighty Media), $9.95, ISBN: 978-1938063442

Recommended for ages 9-13

Twelve year-old Tristan Hunt is kind of a klutz. He trips and falls a lot, which garners him a lot of teasing at school and disappointed glances from his father at home. The luckiest thing happens to him, though, when he falls into a shark tank while vacationing with his parents in the Florida Keys – not only does he emerge unharmed, but shortly after the incident, he receives an invite to a very special summer camp – a summer camp where all the campers learn that they have special talents when it comes to the ocean and the creatures that live there. Tristan can communicate with sharks – that’s a pretty handy talent to have! – and once he’s in the water, he’s not a klutz at all.

That’s not all, though. The camp staff not only teach the kids to hone their abilities, but use them to protect and rescue sea life. They’re supposed to wait until they’re older and receive more training before they qualify for missions, but when critical mission pops up and the team is short-staffed, Tristan and his friends may have to save the day.

This is the first book in a middle grade series that Mighty Media was kind enough to send me, and I am thrilled that they did. With hat tips to both Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, this summer camp for gifted kids is packed with adventure and wonder – the kids are thrilled, yet nervous, about discovering and embracing their new abilities. There’s some great information about various forms of sea life in here, making this a must-read for kids with an interest in sharks, dolphins, octopuses, or any other sea creature. Once it’s established that the kids can communicate with the animals, they each exhibit their own personalities, which adds some fun to the mix (and the sharks with Jamaican accents are hilarious).

Author Ellen Prager is a marine scientist and children’s author, so she brings a great deal of expertise and knowledge to the book. Budding conservationists are going to want to have this book in their collections, too. Ellen Prager’s author webpage offers more information about her background, beautiful photos, fun facts, and printable puzzles to share.

The series is also perfect for your more conservative students and readers. It’s clean, the kids are respectful to adults and one another (mostly), and the adults are fun to be around while exhibiting concern for the kids’ welfare. We’ve got a villain who cares nothing for life outside of his own interests, and has the resources to make enough trouble for the Sea Guardians that we know he’ll be around for at least another book.

This is a fun series for both boys and girls that may have been missed when it hit shelves last year – make sure to give it a look and consider adding it to your shelves this year. I’m always a fan of finding a little magic in my tween realism when I can find it.