Expedition to Pine Hollow (Outriders) by Ed Decter
|Expedition to Pine Hollow (Outriders) by Ed Decter|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Light, bubblegum fiction with annoying CAPITALISATIONS and about as much realism as Bookbag's dreams of winning the Lottery. Rescued from the mediocre by an all-pervading and exciting sense of freedom.|
|Buy? No||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 240||Date: August 2007|
|Publisher: Aladdin Paperbacks|
Cam Walker and his chums - aka the Outriders - are trying to raise the money to buy rock-climbing equipment. They're planning an expedition to the Pine Hollow woods to climb Eagle Tower, an ancient monument whose days are numbered. A mineral firm has been granted a licence to mine bauxite in the area and if the Outriders don't get there quickly, Eagle Tower will be no more. After a series of hair-raising adventures - including being rescued from a marina by enraged coastguards and chased off a golf course by gun-toting security guards - they finally get the money together.
And of course, the Outriders get more than they bargained for. Not only do they discover wicked shenanigans on the part of the mining company, they also uncover the remains of an entire Amerindian civilisation. And of course again, it's up to the Outriders to save it for posterity. Along the way, there are helicopter flights, escapes in micro-light planes, rock climbing, improvised rapids crossings, 360 tonne excavators, bad men with guns, good men rapelling from helicopters and goodness knows what other goodies to satisfy the most geeky of machine-interested children. There's also another clue to the treasure - this treasure and its seeker, local wealthy businessman Chapman Thorpe, is the thread which ties the volumes of the Outrider series together.
Ed Decter has an annoying habit of CAPITALISING anything he thinks needs to be STRESSED. Children do it a lot. I do it sometimes in emails. It is, however, annoying in a book - even a book that is trying to be light, easy and accessible. Expedition to Pine Hollow is very accessible. Keen readers of nine and up could approach it with ease. Everything's explained; every mood, every action, every detail. You don't have draw a single inference or make a single assumption in the course of reading the book. And just in case the explications aren't sufficient, you have the CAPITALISATION as the belt and braces of not having to make the slightest effort. Don't buy Expedition to Pine Hollow if you're hoping to improve your child's reading skills.
Having said that, I don't think Ed Decter is actually trying to improve anybody's reading skills. He's just trying to write entertaining bubblegum fiction that shows the RSI-ridden children of the PS2 generation how much fun and excitement real life and active play can provide. Especially when it's in the absence of responsible adults. And it does this remarkably well. I put down Expedition to Pine Hollow quite fancying an adventure in the woods myself. While obviously it comes with a don't-try-this-at-home warning attached, anything that shows children life doesn't revolve around FIFA 07 and Zelda is a good thing as far as I'm concerned. It's more Hardy Boys than Swallows and Amazons, but it is fun to read.
Probably a book to borrow and read in an evening rather than one to buy and savour, but it will appeal to boys and girls of nine and up as an enjoyable, if light, piece of escapist fiction.
My thanks to the nice people at Simon & Schuster for sending the book.
The Jimmy Coates books by Joe Craig are equally approachable, but add a sci-fi element to unlikely action plots.
You can read more book reviews or buy Expedition to Pine Hollow (Outriders) by Ed Decter at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Expedition to Pine Hollow (Outriders) by Ed Decter at Amazon.com.
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What are connotations of Hardy Boys? (I haven't read it). And what are connotations of Swallows & Amazons? (I read it as a child in Poland almost 30 years ago and loved it, but can't iterpret in the UK modern context).
Hardy Boys are um... format writing. Like Secret Seven or Famous Five. Swallows and Amazons, like it or loathe it, has good writing and recognisable themes.