Travels with Gannon and Wyatt: Botswana
Patti Wheeler and Keith Hemstreet

Claim Stake Publishing, LLC (2010)
978-1936284009

Come face-to-face with a family of white rhinos, survive a crocodile attack, watch amazed as a herd of Cape buffaloes 500 strong strolls by your tent, all while you attempt to save an injured lioness and her cubs. This is all in a day’s adventure for the Wheeler boys in Travels with Gannon and Wyatt: Botswana by Patti Wheeler and Keith Hemstreet.

Told through the journal entries of fifteen-year-old Gannon and Wyatt Wheeler, this story is geared to 8 to 12-year-old readers and could also be read to and enjoyed by a younger audience. I was impressed by these two young explorers who have a deep respect for the people and culture of Africa, and who make an effort to learn and use the local language. The authors have interspersed factual information about the Kalahari Bushmen and the Okavango Delta, etc.

The Wheelers travel to Maun, Botswana and then on to the Kalahari Desert. At camp they meet their guide, Chocs, and are soon set off on safari. The Wheelers have a frightening meeting with a rhino family as this exciting story begins. At the Bushmen or San People’s village, the boys interact with the villagers and learn how this ancient culture survives without running water or the simplest technology.

Gannon hears from a bushman that a lioness mother of four cubs has been shot by a poacher. Gannon becomes instantly wound up. His commitment to help the lioness is contagious and soon preparations are made to travel to the Delta to find her. The Wheeler parents allow Gannon and Wyatt to travel to the Delta with Chocs and the bushman hunter.

The Okavango Delta is a wondrous and hazardous place with many predators and disease-carrying insects. There is no shortage of peril in close encounters with lions, snakes, crocodiles, and more. The Wheeler boys quickly learn that a careless mistake could cost them their lives. After several close calls, they discover the most dangerous predator of all is an armed man who will stop at nothing to continue his illegal animal parts enterprise.

Authors Wheeler and Hemstreet have done an outstanding job of combining education with page-turning adventure. Gannon and Wyatt are intriguing young men – well spoken and intelligent with a passion for the environment, conservation and wildlife. There is enough suspense and danger to keep even the most fickle reader enthralled. The scenery is so well described that I was immediately drawn in and expecting a herd of wildebeest to charge through my living room. Children today have so many distractions from TV and the Internet. I highly recommend you give your child Travels with Gannon and Wyatt: Botswana and let the world be your son or daughter’s classroom.

My hard copy included a high quality DVD with breathtaking video of the desert and delta, and informative interviews with the boys. Available at Amazon.com.

By William Potter for Reader’s Choice Book Reviews.

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