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Item - Jungle Safari

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Series: Choose Your Own Adventure for Younger Readers — no. 13
Contained In: Choose Your Own Adventure Skylark 3 Box Set (Collection)
Translated Into: Gefährliche Safari (German)
Safari dans la jungle (French)
Author: Packard, Edward
Illustrator: Tomei, Lorna
Date: November, 1983
ISBN: 0553152262 / 9780553152265
Length: 51 pages
Number of Endings: 9
User Summary: You go on safari with your uncle Stanley and his daughter, your favorite cousin June. During your journey you hope to find a Kawamba, a rare species of ape not seen in many years.
Demian's Thoughts:

This book has more in common with the original Choose Your Own Adventure series than most of the earlier books in this series do. It has a more interesting story, and the shorter length of the book is dealt with reasonably well.

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KenJenningsJeopardy74's Thoughts:

Without a doubt Jungle Safari is one of the better Bantam Skylark Choose Your Own Adventures, and wasn't far from rising higher. You are invited to join your uncle Stanley and cousin June on a safari, where you will pursue a sighting of the Kawamba ape. Many consider it extinct, but Stanley thinks there remain a few in the Dakara Hills of the Narubi Jungle. At the place you camp the first night, you feel safe in your tent despite exotic animal sounds all around, until you awaken with a green mamba snake slithering through your feet. Is this the beginning of a deadly trek through the jungle?

Uncle Stanley and June disagree how to proceed toward the Dakara Hills: take a central land trail, or navigate the Banta River by raft? On the river, you glide beside flamingoes, a hippo, and a crocodile, but don't face serious danger until white water catapults you from your raft. Should you and June paddle to shore so you can search for Stanley, or float downriver in hopes of landing at a friendly native village? Even if the safari has to be cut short, you may find your experience as rewarding as if you had discovered a Kawamba.

The majority of adventure options are accessible only by taking the land route Uncle Stanley suggests. The day seems full of promise until you get separated from your uncle and cousin and are confronted by a raging elephant. Eluding that threat, you might stumble onto a silverback gorilla and family; you could submit to his leadership until help arrives, or cross a stream to get away. You'll witness a fight between hippos, and have the chance to follow the unique sound a Kawamba makes and maybe see one in person, proving they still exist. Won't the world be surprised when a kid snaps the photo! Alternatively you might wander into a leaky cave containing old bones, guarded by a scorpion...but are the bones more valuable than you know? There's lots to see and do on safari; you aren't guaranteed to go home alive, but excitement is a certainty.

Jungle Safari is more evocative than usual for this series. Numerous endings do a good job keeping you on track to your goal of finding a Kawamba by teasing the possibility of success "someday". There is even some good philosophical content in endings where you make personal connections with either villagers or the gorilla family, and realize that fulfilling your original ambition isn't the only measure of success. Rarely does life turn out tidy the way one envisions as a young person, so finding new avenues to satisfaction is key. In that regard the story branches involving the gorillas remind me of Stranded! by Sara Compton, arguably the best of all fifty-two Bantam Skylarks. If Jungle Safari were a tad more insightful, or even humorous, I would put it on the same level as Stranded!, but the book nonetheless stands out as a series highlight. Edward Packard's story-craft is exceptional and I love Lorna Tomei's illustrations, particularly the downriver shot on pages four and five, the lethal waterfall on twenty-nine, the peaceful sleeping gorillas on thirty-six and thirty-seven, and the village scene on fifty and fifty-one. I'll remember this book a long time.

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