Adventure Series by Willard Price
The Adventure Series was written by Willard Price, who was a photographer with National Geographic and who traveled the world learning about various cultures and observing some of the most fascinating animals on earth. Price used these interests and experiences to write these exciting, action-packed adventure books for young people ages 12 or 13 and up.
Hal and Roger Hunt are the sons of the "world-renowned animal collector," John Hunt. They take a year off from formal schooling to learn with their father, travel the world, and obtain creatures for their father's collection. They fall into a scarcely believable but gripping series of adventures along the way.
The bad guys in this series are really bad, malevolent and murderous. Hal and Roger are really injured and sometimes fighting for their lives. There are weapons and bloody fights more than once. These are not tame books, but Hal and Roger generally act with great courage (sometimes while dealing with the consequences of their own foolishness), living according to a hero ethic that is rapidly disappearing from our culture.
If your religious tradition and preferences lean toward pacifism, you definitely won't like these, but if you don't mind having your boys (or girls) reading about bloody battles and young adults creatively outwitting murderous criminals, and you can readily overlook an occasional, mild reference to evolution, I think you will like these.
The writing is at least several degrees better than anything you'll find in Hardy Boys or Tom Swift.
Here's the passage that first attracted me to these books--
"A tired old last-quarter moon hung in the sky. It was not a bright and cheerful moon, but a moon of mystery and dread. Roger did not like to look at it. Hal was too busy rowing to notice it.
"But his blood ran chill as he heard the forest gnashing its teeth. Savage cries from the mouths of hundreds of wild animals combined into one great roar that seemed to be the savage voice of the jungle itself. Most bloodcurdling of all were the ear-splitting howls that one could imagine as coming from a hundred packs of ravenous wolves, or from an army of man-eating lions--but Hal knew that they were merely the night songs of howler monkeys. Although no bigger than a dog, the howler can make more noise than a jaguar. The sound is a deep rumgling roar that would naturally come only from an animal many times as big. A single howler can easily make himself heard at a distance of three miles. The sound is hard for human nerves to endure. It is as if all the agony in the world were being let loose at once. Hal remembered the comment of a naturalist who said that the first time her heard the howler he was so startled he thought all the tigres on the Amazon were 'engaged in a death struggle'....
"Hardly less hair-raising were the voices of millions of frogs and toads, booming, moaning, thundering, and screeching. They nearly drowned out the hoarse croaking of crocodiles which were evidently numerous along the bank, the whinnying of tapirs, the wild cry of a bird called the horned screamer, the sharp little grunts of peccaries, and many other sounds that were unkown to Hal."
When, a few pages later, Hal contemplates the possibility of a "gory showdown" with a crocodile, the reader will have already learned that he can't comfort himself with the knowledge that Hal's the hero so he can't possibly get hurt. That confidence is just not part of the blend of realism and improbability that is the world of Willard Price.
These books are easiest to find in Great Britain. Most are available for Kindle.
Hal and Roger Hunt crash-land into the middle of a pioneering expedition to the unmapped regions of the greatest jungle on earth: the Amazon. And when their mission to explore the uncharted territory of the Pastaza River goes off course... it's the survival of the fittest.
South Sea Adventure
Hal and Roger Hunt sink deep into danger when a specimen-collecting trip takes them into the lost world of the South Seas. But the deep-sea trawl has a hidden agenda- a top secret mission for Professor Stuyvesant, and his scientific experiments in Pearl Lagoon.
Hal and Roger Hunt dive into danger when they join the Oceanographic Institute as part of an underwater operation in the South Seas. And it's sink or swim for the intrepid brothers when their aquatic adventures bring them face to face with a foe more deadly than the sea creatures of the deep
Hal and Roger Hunt embark on an earth-shattering expedition when they join forces with world-famous volcanologist, Dr. Dan Adams. And as their research of the volatile Pacific volcanoes hots up, the brothers' mission erupts into an awesome adventure.
Hal and Roger Hunt are hoping to have a whale of a time when they agree to join the crew of a whaling ship. But as they begin working for the evil Captain Grindle, face dangerous battles with sharks, and then find themselves shipwrecked, the boys realise they're about to have a much bigger adventure than they'd bargained for.
Hal and Roger Hunt are on the trail of a vicious man-eating leopard. Yet they are also being hunted themselves, by a merciless band of killers known as the Leopard Society. Can they trust their own tracker, Joro, despite knowing he has pledged to lead them to their deaths?
Hal and Roger Hunt are on an awesome African adventure to track down the rare great white elephant. The brothers coolly tackle their task- despite doom-laden prophecies from Mumbo, a Watussi chieftain- and as the temperature rises... the danger level intensifies.
Hal and Roger Hunt fly straight into the jaws of death when they join warden Mark Crosby in Tsavo, an African park where poaching is big business. And with a gang leaving behind a blood-stained trail of terror and torture, the heat is on for the brothers to solve the string of mysterious murders- before they too become victims.
Hal and Roger Hunt have been sent on a terrifying mission- they must save the population of Mtito Andei from a man-eating lion. But the 'King of the Beasts' isn't the only thing trying to kill the boys... Have the brothers bitten off more than they can chew this time?
Hal and Roger Hunt head off for another challenging mission- this time to search for gorillas deep in the Congo jungle. But when the boys stumble across the evil trade in baby gorillas, someone seems determined to silence them once and for all.
Hal and Roger Hunt dive straight into danger on a specimen-collecting trip to Undersea City. But it's not just sharks and killer whales the brothers have to fear when they are plunged into the depths of another adventure.
Hal and Roger Hunt are in New Guinea, the most wild and savage island in the world. But their adventure becomes even more deadly when the brothers discover that man-eating crocodiles and deadly snakes aren't the only things after their blood.
Hal and Roger Hunt are in India, investigating rare and dangerous animals for their father. But on the trail of the rare white tiger, high in the Himalayas, disaster strikes and the brothers realise they are walking into the jaws of death.
Hal and Roger Hunt are colder than they've ever been in their lives, up among the ice floes of Greenland. This harsh land holds many dangers, from killer whales to grizzly bears, but an evil man may turn out to be the deadliest threat the boys have to face.
(All synopses are from Wikipedia.)
You might enjoy this lesson plan.
Price's autobiography My Own Life of Adventure is a scarce, valuable book.
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