Four children, Fred, Con, Lila & her little brother Max are on a small plane back to England when it crashes in the Amazon.
The plane is destroyed and the pilot is dead. Frantic, afraid, starving and exhausted, the four children must work together in order to survive their ordeal.
As they progress through the jungle, they realise they have almost no idea what to do and death seems like a very likely possibility.
Then the children discover objects in the jungle that they didn't expect: a used sardine tin, a penknife and a map.
This gives them hope, and when you're lost in a place like the Amazon, hope is worth its weight in gold.
Upon discovering the Amazon river, they decide to build a raft and try to steer downstream. It's here that they discover a secret that will change everything.
I loved this book, the characters are deep and full of life. Fred, obsessed with heroic tales of explorers of old, feels the weight of the world on his shoulders as he tries to work out the best possible route. Con is fiery and brilliant and works together (and sometimes against) Fred as she learns to survive in the jungle's harsh climate. Lila's goal is to take care of young Max, who is far too young to be faced with such an ordeal. Lila becomes one of my favourite characters as her confidence and insight grows throughout the novel.
The Explorers is like the Goonies in the jungle, it's Heart of Darkness with children looking for Colonel Kurtz to save them from the world. It's Stand By Me on a river, it's all of those things and a lot more. It's also a story about what's important in life and how you will look back at your time on earth when, as Yeats put it, "you are old and gray and full of sleep."
If you enjoy stories with real heart, that are about characters that you want to hang out with for a long, long time, check out The Explorer!