Born For Adventure by Kathleen Karr, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Born For Adventure

Born For Adventure

by Kathleen Karr

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When young Tom Ormsby cons his way onto the great explorer Henry Morton Stanley’s "Relief of Emin Pasha Expedition" in 1887, he’s looking for adventure. But he has no idea what lies ahead of him.


When young Tom Ormsby cons his way onto the great explorer Henry Morton Stanley’s "Relief of Emin Pasha Expedition" in 1887, he’s looking for adventure. But he has no idea what lies ahead of him.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Karr (The Great Turkey Walk) weaves in actual historical facts as her novel takes readers into "Deepest, Darkest Africa," alongside the bombastic writer and explorer Henry Morton Stanley (who famously uttered the phrase "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?"). Sixteen-year-old Tom Ormsby works in a pharmacy in 1880s London, though he dreams of a life of excitement. When he is sent to deliver medical supplies to Stanley, he finagles his way onto the man's latest expedition: a voyage into the heart of the Congo to rescue Emin Pasha, the head of Equitoria who reportedly has been besieged by Islamic Mahdist forces. When they set sail in January 1887, Tom is quickly humbled by his seasickness, his inexperience with firearms, and his first assignment—tending to the 40 donkeys on board. However, he soon proves himself: Tom's pharmaceutical knowledge makes him useful to the expedition's physician, and he convinces the 600-odd Soudanese and Zanzibari porters to get inoculated against smallpox. As the years press on, Tom is catapulted into manhood, as he defends the expedition against frequent native attacks ("Wasn't every day I shot at least five human beings.... Worst of it was, I would've picked off another five if the cannibals hadn't packed it in"), and dissent from within; Tom himself grows disenchanted with his former hero, Stanley. Karr suffuses this coming-of-age story with a wealth of historical detail and a steady stream of action, sure to captivate readers who may harbor their own dreams of adventure. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Claudia Mills
Born for adventure, indeed! Sixteen-year-old Tom Ormsby, bored as a clerk in a London chemists' firm, christens himself with a fancy new name—Thomas Greenville Ormsby—and wangles his way onto legendary explorer Henry Morton Stanley's 1886 mission to rescue Emid Pasha, the British Empire's anointed representative, from hostile native threats to his rule in Equatoria in the heart of darkest Africa. For a cert, to use Tom's favorite expression, one in three white men on the expedition will be dead within a year, but Tom has pluck to spare, so off he goes. By the end of his three-year journey, Tom has grown up plenty, as he witnesses Stanley's obsession with his own power and glory at the expense of all else: his indifference to human life, his insistence on the right of the white man to assert power over the African heathen, and his brutal exercise of that power. Karr immerses the reader so thoroughly in the world of the ill-fated "Relief of Emid Pasha Expedition" that we feel the same oppressive jungle heat that Tom does, and the same affection for his dark-skinned porters, the same revulsion at the groundless praises of Stanley's valor, and the same dark irony when it turns out that Emid Pasha in fact needs no relief and is only destroyed by his "rescue." This complex and many-layered story makes for a challenging read, but one that will richly reward the sophisticated and thoughtful teen reader.
VOYA - Laura Woodruff
Sixteen-year-old London stockboy Tom Ormsby, delivering an order to famous explorer Henry Morton Stanley, manages to sign on for Stanley's 1887 "Relief of Emin Pasha Expedition." Hired as "general dogsbody," young Tom leaves for Africa and three years of violence, disease, starvation, and hardship. He learns firsthand the imperialistic methods of murder and oppression that make Stanley a legend in his own time. Tom also receives medical training from the expedition's Dr. Parke, learns Swahili, becomes blood brother to a pygmy king, and develops a love and appreciation for the native people under his command. One adventure follows another as Tom experiences the incredible beauty and cruelty of the great Dark Continent and its exotic inhabitants. At the end of the 1,500-mile journey, Tom tallies the cost and rejects Stanley's philosophy, electing to return home rather than to share in the expedition's glory. Written by an award-winning author who did original research, the book offers a genuine picture of time and place through the eyes of its only fictional character, engaging and entertaining Tom Ormsby. The reader can share his joys and troubles, ultimately becoming enlightened about the colonial era and the underpinnings of today's African problems. Although British colloquialisms and foreign names might be difficult for some readers, a map, a chronology and an author's note will help most readers to follow the sequence of events.
School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up
Mature for his 16 years, Thomas Ormsby talks his way out of working at the local apothecary and signs up as personal assistant to Henry Morton Stanley on his next African expedition. With dreams as big as the continent, Tom is soon thrust into the middle of war and slavery as Stanley's team works its way from Zanzibar to the deep jungles of the Congo's Ituri Forest. The two-year trek causes the boy to question his hero's motives and whether he has indeed signed up for a rescue mission or one of fame and exploitation. This novel is a bit of enigma. There is no doubt that Karr is a great writer, given the book's quality of craftsmanship-this is a truly informative and eye-opening read. Yet, one struggles to identify with the protagonist. An obvious challenge is his stodgy and somewhat antiquated voice; however, readers may move past this awkwardness and assume that Tom has adopted the bravado and speech of his favorite serial character from Jack Harkaway among the Sea Fiends of the Moluccas . Overall, the author's historical research is quite impressive, but Tom seems almost too good to be true, as if, dropped anywhere in the world, he could easily take on any challenge without fear or surprise at the unique cultures and terrains.
—Kimberly MonaghanCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Amazon Childrens Publishing
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)
780L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 15 Years

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