Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Summer Reads: Explorer Academy


I finally have time to share another title in my Summer Reads list for 2019. (Psst! If you want to see the entire list, check out my Idea List on Amazon. aff link)

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This was actually first on my list for this summer because my 13 yo son had read the first book last fall and was totally sold. I picked up the second book at Barnes and Noble not long ago and he was so excited to get the second book that he devoured it in two days. He said it was even better than the first. And he's anxiously awaiting the release of the third book in September. (Seriously, as I sit here typing, my son is going on nonstop telling me everything about the series.)

Explorer Academy is a new series by National Geographic Kids. My kid says it's like National Treasure meets A Series of Unfortunate Events (the one on Netflix). It's full of intrigue, adventure, genius children, and modern technology.

Cruz Coronado is the main character (I love that he's Hispanic!) who applies to an exclusive school that trains adventurous and gifted students to become professional explorers. His mother was a scientist who worked there developing a secret formula for cell regeneration, but she died under suspicious circumstances in a lab explosion. Now, in addition to his studies, Cruz is on a hunt for her secret formula.

There are cool gadgets and cryptic puzzles scattered throughout the book. My son loves that the series is full of adventure but is reality based. He says it has awesome gadgets inspired by real tech devices. And the adventure doesn't have that feeling of fantasy, which he enjoys, but knows it could never happen. With Explorer Academy, the adventure seems almost attainable. "It could happen," he exclaims.

Here's what I like about it: I LOVE the diversity of the characters! They represent so many different cultures and as a reader, you learn about them and their backgrounds. And most of these multicultural characters are talented, skilled students.


Also, National Geographic has created an entire support site for the series. Their website introduces you to the stories and the characters, but it also allows for extended learning with educational games, articles about the real technology that inspired the gadgets in the book, and even interviews with real scientists doing amazing things around the world.

I also like that although the book is written for older children, it still contains some illustrations. They're much more grown up, of course, including photographs, maps, and information based images. Oh, and some are cleverly fused images of photographs with the illustrated character embedded. But our kids are such visual learners and the illustrations serve to complement the storyline and motivate the reader to continue on.


Really, this series stays true to the spirit of National Geographic, encouraging the reader to explore, appreciate, and protect the world around us. So it's at the top end of my Summer Reads list for 2019.

You can find the book series here on Amazon, and visit their website to see the games and explore all the materials they've shared.

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