Changes in Latitudes

Changes in Latitudes

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by Will Hobbs

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Trouble In Paradise
Sixteen-year-old Travis is looking for a good time. A vacation in Mexico with his mother, sister, and little brother might cramp his style, but he's willing to take that risk for a chance to cruise the beaches.
Travis soon discovers that even with his headphones and shades, he can't completely cut himself off from his family's

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Trouble In Paradise
Sixteen-year-old Travis is looking for a good time. A vacation in Mexico with his mother, sister, and little brother might cramp his style, but he's willing to take that risk for a chance to cruise the beaches.
Travis soon discovers that even with his headphones and shades, he can't completely cut himself off from his family's problems. He begins to understand why his father didn't come with them: His mother is contemplating a divorce. Meanwhile his younger brother, Teddy, becomes increasingly obsessed with protecting some endangered sea turtles near the resort.
In spite of himself, Travis is drawn into Teddy's efforts to save the turtles. But it takes a devastating tragedy beyond his imagining to shake Travis out of his cynicism — a tragedy that will change his family forever.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``I found out something about what's really important and what's not,'' states the teenaged narrator of this novel about the dramatic disruption of a family's Mexican vacation. Ages 12-up. (Jan.)
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9 Travis, a selfish and obnoxious teen, his 14-year-old sister Jennifer, and their 9-year-old brother Teddy are all taken by their mother to a resort town in Mexico for a vacation. Mom, an unhappy wife contemplating a di vorce, is having an affair. Teddy's ob session with the endangered sea turtles leads him to discover a factory where the animals are being slaughtered. Ted dy is outraged by this injustice and fi nally tries to free some of the turtles on his ownan effort which leads to his death. Travis and his mother are impli cated in the death because neither was around to supervise Teddy. In the end, Travis tells his grieving mother that he is sure that Jennifer and Dad will for give the two of them for their neglect of Teddy, but Hobbs does little to con vince readers that they actually will or even that they should forgive them. This is the stuff of which soap operas are made, although even soap operas have their lighter moments. This novel is overflowing with unpleasant stereo types of Mexico (harrowing cab rides, inefficient hotel clerks, and lecherous locals), and one is hard pressed to find sympathy for any of the characters. Kathryn Weisman, Willowbrook School, Glenview, Ill.

Product Details

Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.05(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.32(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

We Were Leaving for a week in Mexico, all of us except my father, that is. For years he'd been putting down Mom's dream of vacationing in a tropical paradise, so she finally gave up on him and said we'd just go on our own. So here we are in the airport, milling around before the flight. Dad's in his jeans, and Mom's looking like she just walked out of a fashion magazine. Not exactly a matched pair. Jennifer and Teddy are sticking close together. Jennifer's fourteen, your standard kid sister. Attractive? Sure, but who'd say that about their sister? Teddy looks like a normal nine year old, but let me tell you something: he isn't.

I'm the one with the headphones and the shades, trailing behind like I'm only loosely affiliated with these people. I used to think I was the center of the universe, but by the end of the week down there I found out this wasn't the case. I found out something about what's really important and what's not. I guess that's why I'm writing this down, to let you know the price I paid and let you draw your own conclusions.

Back to the airport. Jennifer had just noticed some photographs of animals in a glassed-in display. Over the pictures it said in big letters, "THINK BEFORE YOU BUY." I wish she hadn't, but she pointed it out to Teddy. He was over there so fast he could've smashed his face.

He stood there staring with his mouth open. Over his shoulder I saw bloody elephants on their sides with their tusks sawed off, dead leopards, dead rhinoceroses, dead polar bears, dead whales, a mound of dead sea turtles, and on and on. I looked over to Teddy -- hewas horrified. I told you he wasn't a normal kid.

"Endangered feces," I said.

When he heard that blasphemy, Teddy glanced my way with a hurt and disbelieving look. Disbelieving, I don't know why -- l did it to him all the time. "Lighten up," I told him.

Despite the one-sided evidence to the contrary, he wanted to believe that deep down I was as kind and idealistic as he was.

"Look at all those sea turtles," Dad said.

I wish my father hadn't done that. I don't think Teddy had registered on that particular photograph. Now that Dad pointed it out, he took a long look.

While they talked about whether there would be sea turtles on the Pacific coast of Mexico, I checked out examples of illegal items tourists try to bring back into the States, like ivory, furs, curved daggers with hilts of rhino horn, even skin lotion made from turtles.

"Ever seen a bottled sea turtle?" I asked.

I wish I hadn't done that. Teddy came over and had another long look.

"Cut it out, Travis," my sister said. She harbored the suspicion that deep down I was truly twisted. She always was a better judge of character than Teddy.

My mother was getting bored, I could see, and was about to open her mouth and get us moving, so I launched into a reading of the display's big message in the same gloriously insincere style a game-show host uses to announce prizes:

"If trends continue, within fifty years over half of the world's wild animal species will be extinct. The seemingly harmless purchase, in any quantity, of products derived from these animals can only hasten their decline. The Endangered Species Act makes it illegal for anyone to bring such products into the United States, for personal as well as commercial use."

"I can see this is going to take some time," my mother got in edgewise. "Travis, would you stay with Jennifer and Teddy please? We'll be over at the coffee shop. Your father and I need to talk before we go."

This was obviously news to Dad. She was still mad at him for not coming, I figured, and wanted to get off some parting shots. He went along without saying anything.

After awhile they were back and we lined up at the gate. Dad gave presents to everyone, mostly books. When he came to me he said, "Travis, you're the only one who doesn't get a book."

"That's okay," I said. "I can't read."

He grimaced. He hates it when I put myself down, even if I do it for the comedy. He even goes so far as to say I'm as smart as Teddy.

"Some tunes for your Walkman, " he said, and handed me a cassette.

"It's dated," he half-apologized, "but for a trip to Mexico, it's essential."

"What kind of stuff?" I asked. We were all shuffling along, nearing the front of the line for boarding. The PA was announcing what we did and didn't need, birth certificates, tourist cards, whatever. All of a sudden I realized my father was all choked up and about to lose it.

But he kept talking. "Jimmy Buffett. You know, 'Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes."

I didn't know what to say. Suddenly, we were squeezing through a little checkpoint and my father stepped to the side. It was happening fast but it was an awkward moment that seemed to hang up in time and still does. I remember a little of what we were like. Teddy was spooked, very confused. Jennifer was sniffling. Mom was impatient. She'd told us she was determined to have a good time, and we should too, even though Dad had done his best to sabotage the trip by not going.

Dad leaned toward us and whispered hoarsely, "I want you to know I love all of you very much."

That was it. I was the last through the door out to the plane. At the last second I looked back toward my father, but he had already turned away. He had his head in his hands, and he was crying.

Changes in Latitudes. Copyright © by Will Hobbs. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Meet the Author

Will Hobbs is the award-winning author of many popular adventure stories for young readers, including Bearstone and Beardance. His picture book, Beardream, illustrated by Jill Kastner, is a companion to these novels. Seven of his novels have been chosen by the American Library Association as Best Books for Young Adults. A graduate of Stanford University and former language arts teacher, he lives in Durango, Colorado, with his wife, Jean. Longtime backpackers and river runners, they have spent many years exploring the mountain and canyon settings of Will's stories.
To learn more about the author and his books, visit Will's Web site at

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