Eco Rangers is a new adventure series with an ecological theme, aimed at the MG market, written by Australian author Candice Lemon-Scott.
Book 1: Eco Rangers Pelican in Peril
12-year-old Ebony and her best friend Jay live next door to each other in a small seaside town – and yes, there is a map at the start of the book, which always scores brownie points from me! On an everyday visit down to the beach Ebony spots a “black, feathered mound” at the base of the pontoon, closer inspection reveals a pelican covered in smelly, black gloop. The children try to help the pelican out of the water, with comically wet consequences for Jay, and eventually Ebony manages to gain the confidence of the distressed bird sufficiently to lift it into the milk crate on the back of Jay’s bike.
After pedalling to the conservation centre the children take the pelican, named Poseidon by Ebony, to the vets in the Wildlife Hospital (Dr Battacharjee – known as Dr Bat, and Dr Tan). This earns them the sobriquet “Eco Rangers” and starts their adventure as Ebony decides to investigate whether the oil spill from a cruise ship in the harbour is accidental or more sinister. Are the slimy manager of the cruise ship and his crew really taking their oil waste to the correct disposal facility? It is up to the intrepid Eco Rangers to find out!
This is a fantastic book for newly confident readers to read alone, a perfect length at 102 pages of easily-readable font, alternatively it would make an excellent bedtime story. The action is fast-paced, driven along in short chapters, and contains just the right degree of peril for an audience aged 6+. The friendship between Ebony and Jay is utterly believable; Ebony’s determination and bravery is matched by Jay’s loyalty to his best friend and his endearing tendency to think about food at every opportunity. The ecological message that underlies the story shines through the entertaining plot and is a great start to a discussion of these issues with a young child.
Book 2: Eco Rangers Microbat Mayhem
The second book in the Eco Rangers series starts with Ebony and Jay enjoying their reward, from the Wildlife Hospital staff, of a free pass to Super World theme park. However, it doesn’t take long before they are pulled into another ecological investigation and adventure after discovering two baby microbats abandoned on the grass outside the derelict Wild Jungle Ride which is due for demolition.
In this adventure, Jay and Ebony are up against a devious and greedy theme park manager in their fight to save the microbat colony. The manager of the theme park, Ms Pitts, does not take kindly to Dr Bat and Dr Tan telling her that she will have to delay demolition while the bat colony is rescued and re-homed. She “doesn’t look like someone who loved rides, or kids.” It soon transpires that she doesn’t like protected wildlife species either, especially if their roosting site might delay her plans to cash in on the summer tourist season with a huge new roller coaster ride! Will Ebony and Jay be able to foil her machinations and save the colony before the bulldozers roll in? Read this exciting adventure to find out!
Again, this is a perfect book for Key Stage 1 readers who are ready to progress to early chapter books. It is printed in a thoughtful size for small hands and I am particularly impressed that it has been published on slightly buff-coloured paper which is especially helpful for children with certain reading difficulties.
I am very grateful to New Frontier Publishing for sending me review copies of these books in exchange for an honest review.
For children who enjoy the combination of adventure with an ecological theme demonstrated by the Eco Rangers stories, I highly recommend, as next steps, the Kat Wolfe Investigates series (for age 8+) and the Carl Hiaasen children’s books, Hoot, Flush, Scat and Squirm (for 10/11+)