Friday, May 10, 2013

"It's a Jungle Out There" Book One of the Rani Adventures

Ron (Rani) Snell's book, "It's a Jungle Out There," is a captivating look at life in the Amazon Rainforest, from the perspective of an eight-year-old boy. The son of missionary parents, Rani shares countless, breath-taking adventures. It is a miracle he, his brother Teri, and his two sisters survived many of the adventures. Snell's stories are packed with detail and humor, with a little thanksgiving thrown in.

Rani's adventures include navigating swollen river rapids by canoe, raft and fallen tree, navigating 16,000 foot mountain passes via Chevy and canvas-covered "Aeronca" airplanes, and swimming with alligators, piranhas,and sting rays. Life at home wasn't much calmer. Rani's family battled rats, giant ants and vampire bats at home, not to mention the wild ocelot, monkeys, and birds they tried to keep as pets.

A sample of Snell's writing speaks for itself.
 Isulas are big ants. Well, "big ants" doesn't exactly do them justice--they're kind of like one-and-quarter inch monster ants, the way they sting and all. We've seen Machiguenga men writhing on the floor after getting stung. Machiguenga men don't writhe just to impress their girlfriends.

I was the only one of us kids to get an isula bite, so I was kind of special, even though my mom already had gotten stung once when she sat down in the outhouse. Since she might read this book, I better not say where she got stung, but you can assume it wasn't on the top of her head. 
 Snell gives us an eye-opening look at living in a family of Bible translators working with the Machiguenga tribe. In between adventures, Snell's parents learned the language, translated the Bible,  began schools for children in various areas, and grew to love these gentle people. At the end of the book, Snell encourages readers to check out Wycliffe Bible Translators.

What I Like:  When I say captivating, I truly mean captivating.  I read a short section aloud to my family last night, as we were driving home. They couldn't help laughing. Better yet, at 6:30 this morning, my nine-and-a-half year-old son woke me up to ask if he could borrow the book. 6:30 is much earlier than he usually is up on a school morning, and I had to threaten him to get him to put it down at 8:10! I am sure he will be running over to the neighbor's to borrow books two and three this afternoon.

Snell's faith is evident in his compassion for the people, and in the way he writes about their beliefs and struggles with accepting the Christian faith.

The book would also work perfectly for teaching how to write a personal narrative.
What I Dislike:  There were random typos throughout.  Although I noticed them, I can honestly say I enjoyed the book so much, I didn't really care the typos were there.

Overall Rating:  Excellent

Age Appeal: 8 and up (but see Special Note)

Publisher Info: Hannibal Books, 2006; ISBN: 0-929292-83-9; Paperback, 165 pages, $7.95

Buy it Now at for $13.46
OR Buy it at for $7.45. 

Special Note:  Snell writes in a very matter-of-fact manner about death due to infant mortality, disease epidemics and accidents. He also does write about infanticide and people drinking poison in suicide attempts or to try to induce abortion. Snell relates one second-hand story about villagers burying a newborn alive and stomping on the grave because its mother died in childbirth. These sections would be easy to skip, if you were reading the book aloud.

Book Two is called Life is a Jungle! and Book Three is called Jungle Calls.

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