As a child, I loved Willard Price's Adventure books about Hal and Roger Hunt, who travelled the world collecting animals for their father's zoo while escaping from danger in exotic locations, so I was delighted to hear that the estate of Willard Price has commissioned Anthony McGowan to write four new books in the series.
12 year old Amazon Hunt is the daughter of Roger Hunt. At the beginning of Leopard Adventure, she is spending her summer holiday at her boarding school as her parents are on a conservation trip. Returning late to school after watching badgers in a wood, she is saved from a fall when climbing into her dormitory by her 13 year old cousin, Frazer, who informs her that she is to go with him and Dr Drexler from her uncle Hal's conservation organisation TRACKS in Long Island and to meet her parents there.
At the TRACKS headquarters, Amazon learns that she and Frazer are to form part of the conservation team to rescue a rare Amur leopard and her cubs from a threatening forest fire in Russia. Amazon and Frazer are thrilled to travel there, but Amazon hears some alarming news- her parents haven't arrived in Long Island.
In Russia, Amazon, Frazer and the rest of the TRACKS team head into the forest with their tribal guide and his grandson, but Frazer causes an accident leading them to lose their satellite phones. So, isolated from the adults, the children must survive encounters with wildlife, hostile terrains and, ultimately, the most dangerous foe- humans with their own agenda- to rescue the leopards and return home.
I really enjoyed this book. I loved learning about the leopard and the Russian forests, and the pace of the plot meant that the exposition was nicely balanced with action. The story has a satisfying conclusion, but there are enough cliff hangers to make the reader long for the next book in the series, Shark Adventure (due January 2013) to find out more about TRACKS, the falling out between Hal and Roger and what has happened to Amazon's parents. Highly recommended for readers 9+, though confident readers of 8+ would enjoy it, or enjoy having it read to them.