Age: 8 years, 3 months and 12 days (to be exact)
Reading style: Prefers to look things up and read about them, rather than read cover-to-cover.
Favorite books: Encyclopedias about animals, insects and dragons, Star Wars dictionaries and match-up books, The War Horse.
Challenges: Struggles with fluency and this has made him reluctant to read chapter books on his own.
Strengths: Loves to be read to. Soaks up facts that he reads, recites them back and inquires beyond what he's read.
Interests: Making up stories and sketching them out on paper. Imagining new species of predators, then drawing diagrams of them. Collecting insects and examining their body parts. Problem solving.
Adventurous side: Camping, watching nature and survival shows on Discovery Channel (including Man vs Wild), and creating imaginary games from natural objects. Collecting dead insects and sticks.
Our son's adventure began at the end of his book -- about 189 pages in.
That's where, he was told, he'd find a manual that could save his life: "The Amazon Expedition File."
The manual had everything he needed: a map, packing list, survival tips, even a few words of Spanish and Portuguese.
(For a reader who doesn't always make it to the last page, going to the end was a great beginning.)
He was told to absorb every tip, including -- gulp -- what he should do if bot fly larva crawled under his skin.
And he did just that.
In fact, he asked me to quiz him on what he'd read so he'd be ready for anything -- and he was, almost. (But more on that later.)
Luckily, our son is a sponge when it comes to animal and insect facts, and he's watched enough Man vs. Nature
to want to take on the unknown too.
The manual was written a lot like the fact books he reads. It had brief descriptions of things he might encounter with dos or don'ts, and how-tos.
Once he felt prepared, he flipped back to the front of the book. He wasn't quite sure how the adventure would unfold, but he was excited to find out.
The trek started slowly, as members of the expedition team were introduced, with write-ups and pictures, and the team left the spring that feeds the Amazon.
But once the team got into the jungle, the pace picked up and every few pages it would wander into a dicey situation.
In one scenario, the Amazon river was flooding and the team needed to set up camp. So our son called up a satellite image on his computer to predict how far the river would overflow. But did he remember how to interpret the image?
In another, our son heard the rumble of peccaries (pig-like animals with tusks) and had to decide if he should get away fa