Jungle Jitters

Jungle JittersBy Lisa DalrympleThis post was originally published in Canadian Materials, Volume XXIII, Number 23, February 24, 2017. Tate, aka the Potato, is known as a pretty boring kid. Nonetheless, when he and some of his grade six classmates get the opportunity to travel to the Amazon with their teacher to help build a school, he jumps at the chance.Tate’s friends, Dre and Noelle, don’t seem nearly as freaked out as he is by the jaguars, tarantulas, snakes and caimans that lurk in the Amazon. Why does he have to be so scared of everything anyway? To make things worse, Maria and Oscar, kids living at the lodge where Tate and friends are staying, tell them the story of El Tunchi, an evil Amazonian spirit that haunts those who destroy plant or animal life in the jungle and then drags them off.Meanwhile, Tate’s possessions start to go missing, and he eventually finds a rather threatening photo of a snake on his bed. Tate fears that his mishap involving dripping paint on a frog in the jungle has made him a target of El Tunchi.As the tension builds, Tate becomes more and more fearful of the jungle inhabitants, both real and unreal. But his trip to the Amazon teaches him that he has the courage to face his own fears. When another child finds himself in danger, Tate knows he must act. And his own bravery surprises him.Although the idea that a small group of children would travel to the Amazon with their teacher is a little far-fetched, the story, itself, is interesting enough that readers will soon suspend their disbelief. Each chapter ends on a suspenseful note, making readers want to read on. The hint of grade six romance will appeal to some maturing readers as well.Jungle Jitters is suitable for grades 4-7 and is especially appropriate for the reluctant reader in grades 6 and 7. Jungle Jitters is short and easy to read but lots of fun.