Jungle of Bones

Overview


Lost and alone in the jungle, one boy will have to let go of his assumptions and anger, or be dragged down with them.

Dylan Barstow has finally crossed the line. After getting caught on a late-night joyride in a stolen car, Dylan is shipped off to live with his ex-Marine uncle for the summer. But Uncle Todd has bigger plans for Dylan than push-ups and early-morning jogs.

Deep in the steamy jungles of Papua New Guinea, there's a WWII fighter ...

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Jungle of Bones

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Overview


Lost and alone in the jungle, one boy will have to let go of his assumptions and anger, or be dragged down with them.

Dylan Barstow has finally crossed the line. After getting caught on a late-night joyride in a stolen car, Dylan is shipped off to live with his ex-Marine uncle for the summer. But Uncle Todd has bigger plans for Dylan than push-ups and early-morning jogs.

Deep in the steamy jungles of Papua New Guinea, there's a WWII fighter plane named SECOND ACE that's been lost for years, a plane that Dylan's own grandfather barely escaped from with his life. In all this time, no one has ever been able to track down SECOND ACE -- but now Dylan and his uncle are going to try.

Lush and haunted, vital and deadly, these alien jungles half a world away could mean Dylan's salvation, or they could swallow him whole.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
2013-10-09
Dylan Barstow, "major screw-up from Wisconsin," finds his life changed by a trip to Papua New Guinea. Dylan has been in trouble with the law many times, even though he's just going into the eighth grade; he has "a file as thick as a phone book." Last time, it was for stealing candy bars; this time, he stole a car and took a joy ride through a planted field, tearing down the fence and wrecking the car. Since his father, a war correspondent, was killed covering the genocide in Darfur, Dylan has been an angry young man, disaffected and thumbing his nose at the world. His mother has had enough and unloads Dylan on Uncle Todd, who takes him to Papua New Guinea to locate the B-17 bomber Dylan's grandfather crashed in the jungle during World War II. Uncle Todd figures an encounter with the jungle, swamps, 14,000-foot mountains, crocodiles and snakes just might make a man of Dylan. The third-person perspective is appropriate here, as a narrative in Dylan's voice would be dripping with his anger, cynicism and self-absorption. The story weaves a father's letter, the grandfather's journal entries and plenty of hallucinatory jungle-survival scenes to make this a fast-paced adventure with quick resolutions. Apparently, it takes a jungle to raise a child, and Dylan's story will connect with readers seeking adventure. (author's note) (Adventure. 9-13)
Children's Literature - Remy Dou
A jungle, a lost B-17 bomber, and an ex-military uncle stand in the way of Dylan Barstow’s summer fun. He would not be in the situation if he had not stolen someone’s old Plymouth and used it to destroy a freshly plowed field. After putting up with months of rebellious outbreaks, Dylan’s mother sends him on a trip with his uncle to Papua, New Guinea. She hopes the experience will teach him something about life. Lamentably for Dylan, Uncle Todd is more rigid than a straight edge. Dylan quickly learns why he should not disobey Uncle Todd while trying to survive in a jungle that seemingly wants to eat him alive. In Dylan, Mikaelsen creates the ideal misfit—a tough kid who, for the most part, listens to his elders. Dylan never truly lashes out at anyone. In fact, Dylan is more of a punching bag than a misunderstood juvenile; this is where the story falls short. The voice of Mikaelsen’s narrative tends to sound like an irate elderly person giving a tongue-lashing to every young whippersnapper that wears his pants a little too low. When not preaching against loud music and baggy jeans, Mikaelsen reminds Dylan—and readers—to be more respectful of the elder veterans that have fought in previous wars. Although the message hits close to home due to our nation’s recent history, the patronizing tone continues throughout. I cannot imagine a typical child of Dylan’s age or younger reading through this without attractive external motivation. With that said, the story hits a nice peak when Dylan nearly dies in the jungle just before discovering the lost B-17 his grandfather crashed during World War II. Reviewer: Remy Dou; Ages 8 to 13.
School Library Journal
02/01/2014
Gr 5–8—Dylan Barstow steals a junkyard car for a joyride, landing him in jail, and exasperating his widowed mom. The seventh grader is sent off with Uncle Todd, who is assembling a search team to find Second Ace, Grandpa Henry's B-17 bomber that crashed in the jungles of Papua New Guinea (PNG) during World War II. Dylan's own journalist father died in Darfur, on a peacekeeping mission, and he has yet to come to terms with the loss. The protagonist begins reading Grandpa Henry's journal that chronicles the Japanese aerial attack on Second Ace, and learns that a trek to PNG promises malaria, headhunters, crocs, snakes, and rats-plus an airplane wreck with the probable bones of his grandfather's crewmen. Despite Todd's patience with his nephew, the boy flushes his malaria pills down the toilet and is antagonistic toward the search team. Dylan wanders too far away from camp, and his irresponsibility is the beginning of a survival tale rivaling Grandpa Henry's own. In scenes reminiscent of the his Touching Spirit Bear (HarperCollins, 2001), Mikaelsen calls up native spirits. In this case "Kanzi" appears as a young girl who guides Dylan to the plane wreckage and keep him safe, albeit suffering from malaria, leeches, and gangrene. Dylan's attitude adjustment is predictable, but not too maudlin, and is offset by realistic skepticism from Uncle Todd. The details of war and jungle dangers will make this a good addition to middle grade adventure survival collections.—Vicki Reutter, State University of New York at Cortland
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780545442879
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/28/2014
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 145,817
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

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