Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Winter Reading 2015 Travels with Gannon and Wyatt: Ireland


Brothers Gannon and Wyatt are lucky kids. They travel all over the world on vacation with their parents. While their father looks for inspirations for his art, their mother (a flight attendant), home-schools the boys. Part of their language arts assignment is to keep a journal of their travels and what they learn about each location they visit. In this book of the series the family is in Ireland and the boys sign up to work as youth volunteers on an organic farm. But when they arrive, they learn that the small farm that has been in the same family for generations is in danger. A nearby commercial farm is polluting the area with their chemicals and waste runoff and they are keeping the animals in terrible, inhumane conditions. Mr. O'Leary, the farmer they are working with, tells them that the owner of the commercial farm, Mr. Mulroney, has paid off local officials so that he can continue with his illegal practices. What can a couple of teenagers and a small, independent farmer do against a rich businessman?

Along with the mystery and action (being chased by armed thugs, getting lost in the forest at night, etc.), there is plenty of information about Ireland and the sites the boys see during their trip. Kissing the Blarney Stone, rock climbing on the Cliffs of Moher, seeing monuments to famous writers like James Joyce and Oscar Wilde, and watching a rugby match in Dublin are only some of the activities they pack into their tour of the country. The photos that accompany the boys' journal entries give readers a chance to see some of the sites that are described. 

Another perk is that the boys have such different interests and personalities, so they focus on different aspects of each location. Gannon is more interested in the culture - people, language, history. Wyatt is a "total science nerd" (that's his brother's description of him, not mine), so he is drawn to details of the geography, climate, and ecosystem of their vacation spots. With each of them talking about the things that catch their interests, there is well-rounded coverage of their trip within their journal entries. And their approach to life also balances out, with Gannon charging forward and going on impulse while Wyatt tends to think about the consequences and provide a calming influence.

Any young readers interested in travel, exotic/foreign locales, and a little intrigue and adventure will enjoy this series.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley. You can check out more info about the real Gannon and Wyatt and the rest of their books at their website. They have their own blog, photos from each of the books' locations, and a video web series about their real-life travels.

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