The moment I saw the terrifying picture of Tyrranosaurus Rex and Chris Middleton’s headline in today’s Telegraph, ‘Make Reading into an Adventure’, I thought ‘The Lost World’. That would be the The Lost World of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, which I read for the first time as an eleven-year-old. This and my father’s copy of Exploration Fawcett, the story of the somewhat apocryphal adventures in South America of a Lieutenant Colonel from the British army, as well as Rider Haggard’s novels, were the books that excited my imagination as a youngster.
In Return to the Lost World, authors Steve Skidmore and Steve Barlow, do an Anthony Horowitz and re-visit a previously successful story genre in which now the heroes are young people. In the re-versioning, the eponymous Professor Challenger is replaced by Luke Challenger. As the names of the book and the protagonist suggest, the story is, as one of the authors describes it, a ‘medley of Steven Spielberg: Jurassic Park and Indiana Jones.’
Apparently, the two writers have already written a hundred and thirty books and, according to Middleton, spend half the year touring schools not merely encouraging children to read but generating real excitement around them.
This sounds great, though from what I’ve read of Middleton’s piece, what the critics might make of the neo-imperialist mode of emplotment and the accompanying western-centric sermonising, remains to be seen. I look forward to reading it!
And, best not to forget that before children can enjoy this thrilling genre, they need to be able to read!