Crocodile Rescue! (Wild Survival #1)
Twelve-year-old Adrianna Villalobos and her older brother Feye travel the globe with their parents, the hosts of a suspenseful nature show called "Wild Survival!" The show features daring animal rescues and the work the family does at their animal sanctuary. They've recently gotten an offer to take the show from YouTube to a TV network, and Adrianna is thrilled. So far, she's always been behind the scenes, but now she gets to join the rest of her family onscreen. She can't wait to bring her passion for animals to a wide audience.
Their first stop is the lush mangrove forests of Cuba, where they're going to help rescue an injured crocodile. But things get off to a rocky start when Feye is injured in an accident partially caused by Adrianna. The status of the show is in jeopardy, and Adrianna's parents want her back behind the scenes, or maybe even back at home.
Adrianna is determined to prove herself, and save the show-whatever it takes. Even if that means confronting the legendary Mega Croc of Cuba that's rumored to inhabit the murky waters around their base camp.
Based on the author's real-life wildlife encounters, this middle-grade series will include real animal facts, light illustration of the creatures mentioned in each book, and an Author's Note from Melissa.
This was a solid middle grade action/adventure mystery with the great inclusion of scientific information about species and habitats in Cuba. I learned a lot about mangroves! I loved the strong family unit and the nice relationship between Adrianna and Feye. The film crew and the staff at the zoo where the parents worked were also supportive. While the kids have to follow their parents' sensible rules, they do have some agency, and figure out the location of the crocodile being sought. This had excellent pacing, vivid descriptions of the surroundings, and a solid plot.
There was a lot that could have been done with Savage and the violent poachers. I really felt like the book was headed for a major, Scooby-Doo type encounter ("those blasted, meddling kids!"), but that just fizzled. Adrianna, while she makes good choices when she is actually in danger, makes a lot of questionable ones throughout the book. Smuggling stray dog into hotel room? Going out in the boat with just your brother when you're still injured? The parent in me hated this, but middle grade readers will find these actions intriguing. As long as they don't go to Cuba and try to recreate these behaviors, I think we're okay!
I'm definitely looking forward to more books in this series. Many young people what to be marine biologists when they grow up, so it's great to see a Latinx marine biologist turn her hand to middle grade fiction incorporating lots of facts about animals and their habitats!