Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Wild & Wonderful Wednesday: The Berenson Schemes by Lisa Doan


Jack's parents have been chased out of Tokyo, gone broke in Greece, and hosted Nairobi's least successful safari. Next they're taking Jack on a Caribbean vacation,whether Jack wants to go or not. The Berensons are about to start a snorkeling business. It's their latest get-rich-quick scheme. With these experienced world travelers at the helm, what could go wrong? Jack is used to staying indoors and not taking chances. When his parents take him out on the water, he ends up shipwrecked. Now Jack has to survive on a tropical island...and avoid a whale shark that's cruising along his beach.


When Jack's parents decide to take him to a Caribbean island to start a new business Jack is far from happy. Especially since he is well aware that his parents are seriously lacking in common sense.  He dreads the possible consequences of being dragged with them on one of their 'adventures' which are more like disasters.  And unfortunately for him, he's right.  I think what I found so funny about this book was the fact that Jack was more parent-like than his parents and his parents more childlike.  The adventure side of things was surprisingly believable for such a quick read. I especially enjoyed the well-presented setting.  For an survival adventure like this the setting is very important.  But a book this short and for such a young audience also needs to be careful not to get bogged down in the details.  I thought the book found a good balance between setting details and keeping the plot moving, especially since Jack is alone for a good chunk of the book.  A fun adventure story that blends humor and excitement in a way that will appeal to reluctant readers.


In number 2 of The Berenson Schemes series, the Berensons arrive in Kenya for their latest get-rich-quick scheme, building a Maasai warrior camp for tourists. Sadly, Jack is accidentally left stranded in the Masai Mara. 

Jack homesteads on the African plains, surviving on Chips Ahoy cookies and instant coffee. He spends his days fighting off the local wildlife, attempting to home-school himself with his only text book (‘Seventh Grade in an Hour’) and working on a plan to get out of the Masai Mara alive.


Another funny adventure for Jack Berenson, facing off this time with the African savanna. When Jack's parents drag him off to Kenya to create a model Maasai village for tourists, Jack is inadvertently left in an acacia tree alone with only a few supplies, waiting once again to be rescued.  Once again I found myself laughing and rolling my eyes, especially at the parts involving Jack's parents.  Jack, himself, is a brave if cautious adventurer.  Luckily for him, he is also rather adaptable, which is good because he keeps getting thrown into difficult situations and he can't exactly rely on his parents.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book, the only problem I had was something that is a bit of a pet peeve of mine and that is illustrations that don't match the text.  This happened in several spots, however, I am well aware that illustrators have a fairly limited amount of space and so I've learned to let this go if I like the story and I did like this story.

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