Middleworld

Overview

In the ancient city of Itzamna, Lord Six-Rabbit wakes up screaming. A great warrior king of the mighty Maya, he has dreamed he was a lowly, flea-bitten monkey. How could this be? Was this some sorcery sent by his half-brother, Tzelok, the evil priest?

1200 years later, in Boston, Massachusetts, 14-old Max Murphy is looking forward to a family vacation. But his parents, both archaeologists and Maya experts, announce a change in plan. They must ...
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Overview

In the ancient city of Itzamna, Lord Six-Rabbit wakes up screaming. A great warrior king of the mighty Maya, he has dreamed he was a lowly, flea-bitten monkey. How could this be? Was this some sorcery sent by his half-brother, Tzelok, the evil priest?

1200 years later, in Boston, Massachusetts, 14-old Max Murphy is looking forward to a family vacation. But his parents, both archaeologists and Maya experts, announce a change in plan. They must leave immediately for a dig in San Xavier, the tiny Central American country where his father grew up. Max will go to summer camp. Max is furious. He's always suspected that his parents cared more about the Ancient May than about him and this proves it. When he's mysteriously summoned to San Xavier, he thinks they've had a change of heart. But he's met at the airport by one of their colleagues, who explains that his parents have gone missing at the remote Maya temple of Ix Chel. He also tells Max the legend of The Jaguar Stones, the five sacred stones of Middleworld (the Maya name for the world of men) which enabled Ancient May kings to wield the powers of living gods.

And so begins Max Murphy's wild adventure in the tropical rainforests of San Xavier. During his journey, he will unlock ancient secrets and meet strangers who are connected to him in ways he could never have imagined. For fate has delivered a challenge of epic proportions to this papered teenager. Can Max rescue his parents from the Maya Underworld and save the world from the Lords of Death, who now control the power of the Jaguar Stones in their villainous hands? The scene is set for a roller-coaster ride of suspense and terror, as the good guys and the bad guys faceoff against a background of haunted temples, zombie armies and human sacrifice.
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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 5–9—Max, 14, has had enough! His archaeologist parents have always been annoyingly obsessed with everything Mayan. But now they have canceled the family vacation to go on a dig in Central America, leaving him behind. Max is furious, moping around and avoiding the chores left to him by his father. One day, the housekeeper mysteriously turns up with a ticket for Max to San Xavier where he is supposed to meet up with his parents. From the time his plane touches down, nothing goes as planned. First, Max is met at the airport by a stranger and sent on a wild bus ride to find an uncle he has only heard bad things about. Then, he discovers that his parents have vanished into the jungle. To top it off, he gets lost in the rainforest and teams up with a strong-willed Mayan girl named Lola. Together they embark on a quest to find Max's parents and uncover the ancient secrets that are placing the entire world at risk of destruction. Scott Brick does a nice job of capturing the breathless action of the story and Max's varied and changing emotions. He provides convincingly unique voices for all the major characters. With a winning combination of appealing characters, a solid story, and excellent narration, this audiobook will appeal to fans of fantasy and high adventure.—Deanna Romriell, Salt Lake City Public Library, UT
Booklist
Newly arrived in "the snake-infested dump" of San Xavier, a fictional Central American country, 14–year–old Max Murphy discovers that his archaeologist parents have disappeared. Aided in his search by resourceful Lola, a descendent of the Maya, Max learns that the gods of her people have chosen him for a mission involving powerful artifacts. The husband and wife coauthors, whose knowledge of the ancient Maya is evident from detailed appendixes and a bibliography, deliver too much information here, giving short shrift to Max's characterization and certain plot elements-such as why the ancient spirits speak English, and why Max, an often-whiny Bostonian with no ancestral ties to the Maya, finds favor with them. In addition, the pains the authors take to avoid making the culture seem exotic or strange are undercut by the wild mysticism surrounding the artifacts. Still, the book's unusual Mesoamerican backdrop is worth marking, and the Indiana Jones-influenced adventure, as well as the book's polished line drawings, will keep readers interested and looking forward to future entries in the Jaguar Stones trilogy.
—Jennifer Mattson
Flamingnet Book Reviews
A simply awesome read. Different to any book I've read because of all the Maya information. I definitely look forward to the next two books in the series! Top Choice Award
Kingdom Books
Jon and Pamela Voelkel left a powerful advertising career in England to settle in Norwich, Vermont, where they built a home, welcomed the (surprise) arrival of their third child, and made the ultimate career switch: They started writing for "young adults."

Their adventure novel "Middleworld" became available at the start of October, through a publishing house called Smith & Sons, a mostly theater-related publisher. Its owners were persuaded by their son Peter Kraus, who discovered the manuscript - and insisted that his parents take it seriously. Now, with a New York City launch and an active book tour underway, it looks like Peter's discovery is a hot new success.

Every middle-grade book these days gets compared to the Harry Potter series, and "Middleworld" has already been called "Harry Potter meets the Maya." And the plots have in common magic, a teenage boy, and plenty of battle scenes. But there are more differences than similarities, and the differences make this an exciting fresh book.

New England Children's Bookselling Advisory Council
Funny, fast-paced and entirely original.
Teens Read Too
I predict this trilogy will be popular with fans of Anthony Horowitz, Roland Smith, and even Harry Potter fans... Plenty of action and humour will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Five Star Review
Upper Valley Life Magazine
Kids will love the twists and turns of the story, and cheer along with Max as he rescues his parents, gets the girl (well, gets the girl as his best friend) and saves the K'in (the Mayan word for day). Parents will love what the book provides to their teens: a glimpse into the world of archeology, an educational look at another culture and several valuable life lessons.
Young Adults Books Central
An amazing job of weaving the stories of the Maya into a modern day thriller. The perfect bait to get a videogamer to turn off the TV and read! Five Star Review
Publishers Weekly

A Boston teenager whose idea of adventure comes from computer gaming finds himself at the center of cosmic struggles between ancient Maya gods within the jungles of Central America, in this husband-and-wife team's first installment of the Jaguar Stones trilogy. Max Murphy's archeologist parents leave him behind, as usual, when they rush off to excavate an ancient Maya temple, and so he is surprised to be summoned to join them a week later. By the time he arrives, however, they have gone missing, and Max can tell that people are holding back the details. Despite his lifelong lack of interest, Max finally has to learn about Maya culture, especially when his parents' disappearance seems to have to do with the five "jaguar stones" used by the ancient ruler-gods and said to confer ultimate powers. This elaborate genre-bender involves ruthless smugglers; family estrangements; a helper in the form of a teenage Maya girl named Lola; two ancient Maya rulers brought to life (and given the bodies of baboons); Maya culture, past and present; zombies; and the Maya gods' eternal conflicts. That Max has somehow been chosen (presumably by the gods) to play the hero goes unresolved here, but between the exotic settings and themes and the breakneck pace, readers may not even notice the thin characterizations and motivations. A detailed appendix surveys the Maya world. Ages 11-up. (Oct.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
School Library Journal
Gr 5-9-Max Murphy is the 14-year-old spoiled and self-centered son of archaeologists who are Ancient Maya experts. Although his parents believe he is headed for summer camp, his enigmatic Central American housekeeper instead sends him to visit his uncle in San Xavier (based on present-day Belize), where his mother and father have recently departed for a new project. Once there, Max discovers that they have disappeared under mysterious circumstances. He joins forces with Lola, a native girl whose ability to navigate the jungle and the rainforest prove invaluable. Max is drawn into a life-or-death battle to rescue his parents from the Ancient Maya underworld and save the country from coming under the rule of the 12 Lords of Death. Suspense and intrigue, human sacrifice, smuggling, and secret doors and escape routes through pyramids ensure that the novel, the first in a projected trilogy, is likely to win legions of fans, who will gravitate toward the nonstop action that echoes Max’s beloved video games. Seven full-page illustrations and numerous line drawings help break up the text. The authors include illustrated information on the Maya’s calendar, pronunciation, math, writing, and cosmology.-Ellen Fader, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307711991
  • Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/1/2010
  • Series: Jaguar Stones Trilogy Series
  • Format: CD
  • Age range: 8 - 11 Years

Meet the Author

Jon Voelkel grew up in Peru, Costa Rica and Colombia. He was not a natural-born adventurer and found life in the jungle difficult, to say the least. Having survived monkey stew, an attack by giant rats, and a plane crash in the middle of the rainforest, he escaped to college in Minneapolis and went on to business school in Barcelona. After working in advertising agencies in Spain, Holland and England, he started his own agency in London with four other partners - one of whom would be his future wife. In 2001, the London Financial Times named him one of the top fifty creative minds in Britain.

While Jon was battling the daily perils of the jungle, Pamela Craik Voelkel was writing stories and dreaming of adventure in a sedate seaside town in the north of England where nothing ever happened. After graduating from Leeds University in English Language and Literature, she fled to London to take any job with "writer" in the title. After stints reviewing books, writing catalogs and penning speech bubbles for photo-romances, she become an advertising copywriter. As Creative Director of Craik Jones Watson Mitchell Voelkel, she helped the agency win literally hundreds of creative awards.

In 2001, the Voelkels moved to rural Vermont and began work on 'Middleworld', the first book they have written together. In an interesting male/female collaboration, Jon plots out the action (much of it based on his own childhood memories and the bedtime stories he tells their three children), then Pamela fleshes out the characters and decides how they feel about things.
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Table of Contents

Preface: The dream 2
I. The end of the world 8
II. The Curse of the Maya 24
III. Aguas Muertas 39
IV. The Villa Isabella 54
V. Max goes bananas 69
VI. Family secrets 83
VII. Thieves in the night 97
VIII. The monkey girl 109
IX. In the dark 122
X. Strange weather 131
XI. Rat-on-a-stick 144
XII. The feast 159
XIII. Monkey River 174
XIV. Itzamna 188
XV. The oath of blood 198
XVI. The cosmic crocodile 205
XVII. Trick or treat 226
XVIII. The chicken of death 244
XIX. Monkey business 256
XX. Counting the days 269
XXI. Preparing for battle 278
XXII. The black pyramid 291
XXIII. Captured 314
XXIV. The showdown 324
XXV. Human sacrifice 335
XXVI. Morning 347
Appendix: a guide to the maya world 365
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Introduction

Introduction:
DEAR READER,

Like some of the teenagers who reviewed this manuscript for us, you may object to one of the names in this story.
You can't have a hero called Lord Six-Rabbit, you may say. It's not regal enough. Why, to modern ears, he sounds more like a
cuddly toy than a fearsome warrior king. You're right, of course. But if this book leads you to read more about Maya civilization, you'll meet other strangely named kings such as Stormy Sky, Smoke Monkey, Green Macaw and Smoking Frog. Then you may be glad that our hero was inspired by a great eighth century ruler called Eighteen-Rabbit, and not by Stormy Sky's father, the ingloriously named Curl Snout.
Here are some more things you should know before you read on . . .

The Ancient Maya called our world Middleworld, because it was sandwiched between the upper world of the heavens and the underworld,
which they called Xibalba.

The Jaguar Stones are fictional, as are all the main characters except for Friar Diego DeLanda. He was the true-life Spanish priest
who, in 1562, reduced the sum of Ancient Maya knowledge to ashes by making one huge bonfire of all their hundreds of folding bark books.
(As far as we know, only three books and a fragment of a fourth survived.)

San Xavier is a fictional country based on present-day Belize. Maya or Mayan? We have followed the scholarly precedent of using Maya as both noun and adjective to describe the people and their culture, reserving the word Mayan for the family of thirty languages still spoken by the six million Maya living in Central America today.

J&P Voelkel
Norwich, Vermont
5 Kib, 8 K'umk'u
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