Friday, August 6, 2010

Captured in Columbia: The Parker Twins Series

Jeanette Windle's Parker Twins series takes siblings Justin and Jenny on adventures all over the world. In volume three, Captured in Colombia, the twins learn the true meanings of friendship and forgiveness, as they experience tourism and a guerrilla camp in Colombia.

When Uncle Pete asks Jenny and Justin to tag along with him on a business trip to South America, he never dreams he will be putting them in danger. But, his position as an executive for an oil company makes him and his young charges a perfect target. Just before Pete and the twins arrive in Colombia, two guerillas were arrested for trying to bomb a pipeline. The American Embassy decides they had better keep tabs on Jenny and Justin, and their uncle, in case of retaliation.

Jenny and Justin are placed in the care of Steve, a Marine stationed at the Embassy. He takes the children sightseeing, to keep them busy. Jenny and Justin learn lots of interesting facts sightseeing, but Justin can't help being fascinated by the beautiful Colombian girl who keeps showing up. Justin is sure she needs a friend, but Jenny is put off by her volatile, antagonistic attitude. However, Justin makes her acquaintance, and soon Estrella is confiding in the twins. The twins are confused by her mixed messages, as she seems bitter towards Americans, but claims to want to help. Soon, Uncle Pete is kidnapped and it looks like Estrella may be partly to blame. Quickly, she offers to help the twins find him, as long as they promise not to tell anyone.

Before long, the twins, Steve and Uncle Pete are tied up on the side of a volcano set to erupt any day. It looks like Estrella has betrayed them, and Justin and Jenny must figure out not only how to survive, but how to forgive.

What I Like: I like Justin and Jenny. They are fresh, pleasant, but not completely perfect characters. Many teens will relate to their enthusiasm, taste for adventure, and confusion. They can't quite figure Estrella out, and sometimes their hopes get the best of their judgment. They are also a believable brother-sister pair. They love each other and enjoy each others' company, but they argue as well. It is nice to see realistic arguments ending in understanding instead of name-calling or violence.

I also like Windle's realistic portrayal of Colombia. The back of the book states, "Windle has spent most of her life in South America. . . ." Her background lends authenticity to this fast-paced adventure. I never realized there were so many places I would like to visit in Columbia.

What I Dislike: Some parts of the plot were a little hard to believe, and others were a little predictable, but I don't think many young readers will mind.

Overall Rating: Very Good

Age Appeal: 8-12

Publisher Info: Kregel Publications, 2002; ISBN: 9-780825-441479; Paperback, $

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Special Info: This book was previously published as Adventures in South America in 1994.

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