Travels With Gannon & Wyatt #1-5
Botswana – Great Bear Rainforest – Egypt – Greenland – Ireland
Author: Patti Wheeler & Keith Hemstreet
KidLit/Middle Grade Adventure
According to author’s notes found in each book, the Gannon & Wyatt series was conceived while sitting around a campfire. Based loosely on the family’s real-life travels, each Gannon & Wyatt title takes readers on an adventure to an international locale to which the family has actually traveled. G & W’s mom is a flight attendant and their father is an international businessman, so G & W have grown up with a spirit of adventure and a love for science and culture. The boys wanted to share their adventures with the world and began collaborating with Wheeler and Hemstreet on fictional adventure titles for readers to enjoy.
Each title has a wealth of adventure and danger. Think Indiana Jones or The 39 Clues series or something similar. In each location, the boys set out to accomplish a specific objective. In Botswana, they go on a safari and help native Bushmen track down a lioness to remove a poacher’s bullet and save her life. In the Great Bear Rainforest, their goal is to work with a renowned environmentalist to study the habitat of the spirit bear, then volunteer at a whale research lab. In Egypt, G & W have been selected as Fellows for a Youth Exploration Society archaeology dig, the goal of which is to excavate the lost tomb of Cleopatra. In Greenland, they dogsled, research climate change, and race to help the Inughuit people before they run out of supplies. And in Ireland, they learn about their family’s heritage and try to stop an illegal farming operation.
Much like the 39 Clues series, each destination holds treasure, deadly undercover operations, and unexpected friendship and kindness. Each title alternates between G & W’s viewpoints as they write in their research journals, copies of which are sent to the Youth Exploration Society archives. Gannon is an aspiring filmmaker and is more artistically and culturally minded. His point of view often waxes poetic about the beauty of nature or the lifestyles of each destination’s local population. In contrast, Wyatt is an aspiring scientist, more structured and mission-minded. His journal often cites exact coordinates and temperatures, wildlife or history facts, and a plan to accomplish the goal.
Although the series is based loosely off actual travels and explorations, the fictional adventures are way more over-the-top and implausible. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing (once again, think Indy or the Cahills), but if you’re looking for something extremely realistic, this isn’t it. G& W often go up against poachers, thieves, underhanded corporations, and nature itself. They also face down charging lions, fall into Egyptian booby traps, speak before the Irish Parliament, and scale almost unclimbable cliff walls. These things certainly aren’t going to happen to your average traveler.
However, there’s also a wealth of knowledge to be found within this series – for each location, G & W discuss the culture, history, species, current state, and more, so young minds get a glimpse of a different way of life. Also included in each title are pictures from G & W’s actual travels, adding a visual component to the adventure. The overall tone of the books teaches that there will be difficulties, but that scientists and explorers must overcome obstacles to fight for a cause they believe in, whether that be wildlife conservation, archaeology, or something else. For young readers, this would be a good gateway series for those who love adventure to also develop interests in history, archaeology, wildlife, science, and more. Over-the-top adventures with a solid foundation on fact makes for a strong series that will most certainly entice young adventurers and reluctant readers.