Reluctant explorer

21st July 2000 at 01:00
Elaine Williams finds novels for children who have acquired a taste for reading this summer

Children are often willing to attempt a longer, meatier read in the summer holidays; a time when they also have a thirst for adventure. Nick Warburton's Lost in Africa (Walker Books pound;9.99) is one of his best works to date and, again, provides older juniors with plenty to think about.

In succinct, but powerfully evocative prose, Warburton tells the story of Natasha Banham and her brother Colin who leave England, where they are cared for by relatves, to visit their father in colonial Africa, where their mother died.

Natasha hates these visits to her impulsive, overbearing father, but on this occasion finds herself involved in a hair-raising escapade. Having been overlooked for promotion, Mr Banham resigns from his position and makes off into the swamps with his hurt pride, his children and a pram full of possessions. Warburton creates warm, intriguing characters in an action-packed story which also deals with grief and the subtlety and complexity of human relationships.

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