Young Adult Literature


Forest of the Pygmies
by Isabel Allende


From School Library Journal
Grade 7-10–In the final installment of a trilogy that began with City of the Beasts (2002) and Kingdom of the Golden Dragon (2004, both HarperCollins), 18-year-old Alexander Cold, his globe-trotting journalist grandmother, and their 15-year-old friend, Nadia, travel to Kenya to take an elephant safari. Soon, the party takes a detour to the jungle to find some missing missionaries, and, in the process becomes embroiled in a messy bit of business. It involves a military man who has taken over a village and terrorized and enslaved the local Bantu and Pygmy tribes. Although this adventure can stand alone, the amazing abilities of Alexander and Nadia (which include turning into their "totems" of a jaguar and an eagle, talking with animals, and becoming invisible) may strike newcomers to the series as somewhat jarring, not to mention rather too convenient to the plot. The language can be lyrical and several of the characters (especially Angie, the almost-fearless female African pilot) are charismatic, but too often the emotions and personalities of Alexander and Nadia are narrated in long passages instead of shown through action and dialogue, creating an emotional distance that detracts from an otherwise fine adventure tale. Buy where the first two books are popular.–Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library
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