Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
Alex Winters, a sixth grader with a bit of an attitude, is traveling from Chicago to the Amazon Jungle to join his anthropologist parents. He records his adventures in a fast-paced journal. On the first page, the plane crashes and by the fourth entry, Alex has been discovered by the Yanomami tribe. Here begins a journey highlighted with drawings, Polaroids, integrated with stories of life in the "shapono", or huge doughnut shaped shelter that houses the "Fierce People." Alex makes friends, witnesses ceremony, and is even caught in a fierce battle. The novella shows genius of design, conception, non-fiction and fiction blending, and a character whose American preadolescent voice makes the story appealing to children.
Children's Literature - Gisela Jernigan
"I can't believe it's finally today! I, Alex Winters, am actually sitting in a Cessna 185, NEXT to the pilot, flying aver the AMAZON JUNGLE!!!" So begins the travel diary of 12-year-old Alex, on his way to visit his anthropologist parents over Christmas Break. Little does he know that his exciting trip will soon become even more exciting, when the small plane crashes in the jungle, and he his rescued and adopted by a group of isolated, Yanomami Indians. Luckily, Alex, his travel diary, Polaroid camera, and art materials are unharmed by the crash, and we are able to share his adventures with his new "family." Alex offers his lively, often amusing, first person account, made even more vivid by the inclusion of drawings, paintings and photos. The story and pictures are so believable that it is hard to accept that the book is the result of the creative efforts of the author and illustrator/photographer. It is a very appealing way for both kids and adults to learn more about the Amazon Jungle and the Yanomami people.
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
On his way to meet his parents in South America, Alex Winter's plane crashes leaving Alex and the injured pilot somewhere in the Amazon jungle. They are found and cared for by the Yanomamis, one of the only Stone Age tribes extant. This book is Alex's diary, in his handwriting with accompanying drawings and photos. Soon Alex is learning about electric caterpillars, fire ants, poisonous frogs, snakes, grubs and tapirs. The real excitement occurs when neighboring traders, after partying, become angry at one of the trades and kidnap Wakima, a daughter of the chief. Alex joins the war party determined to get her back. Hang on to your socks as you read about these jungle adventures.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6At first glance, this book appears to take a surface look at the Yanomami of the Amazon rain forest. However, it has a hidden depth. Written in diary format with a hand-lettered text, the story follows Alex, a sixth grader who is traveling to visit his anthropologist parents. His plane crashes and he and the injured pilot are taken to the village of the "fierce people." As the boy waits for the pilot to recover, he gets to know the Yanomamis. His descriptions of his adventures gives readers a certain amount of information, including how the people hunt and the arrangement of their community. Full-color snapshots and illustrations show how the Yanomami exist from day to day. As Alex infers in his diary, they truly seem to be a people who exist entirely away from the modern world. While the information is a bit simplified, this title would be a popular choice for students interested in the environment or the rain forest. For a more in-depth look at the Yanomani people, try David M. Schwartz's Yanomami (Lothrop, 1994).Melissa Hudak, North Suburban District Library, Roscoe, IL
Subtitled "The Jungle Adventures of Alex Winters," this is a slice of the fictitious life of sixth grader Alex Winters, who details his trip to the Amazon through a handwritten journal that includes his scribblings, snapshots, and drawings. A plane crash provides an unforeseen opportunity for Alex to live among the Yanomami, or "Fierce People." Overcoming great fear and overwhelming obstacles, Alex witnesses wild and unfamiliar religious practices and quickly learns to hunt alligator and tapir, eat roasted grubs, battle electric caterpillars, fire ants, and lice.
By no means a complete portrait of the Yanomami, this is an accessible glimpse into the daily life of these isolated rainforest dwellers, a valuable starting place for discussion. Talbott (Excalibur, p. 1057) and Greenberg have created an account of Alex's adventures that makes for an exciting story, albeit a farfetched one. In a book crafted with the goal of teaching respect for other cultures, the blond-hero-who-drops-out-of-the-sky-and- saves-the-day-with-technology ending is patronizing and hard to swallow.