What's not to like about a fast-paced action/adventure with a Level 5 hurricane, fortune-telling circus people, and a pregnant elephant? Author Roland Smith has provided us a nail-biter that leaves us screaming, "More!" when we reach its exciting cliffhanger of an ending.
Chase, 13, travels the country with his father and their assistant Tomas, following storms in anticipation of the business their crew will reap in the repair work necessary after a major disaster. His dad has been hit by lightning twice, and now has a nose for where and when a storm will hit. Chase's own sense of impending danger is improving, and when they park their trailers on the winter property of a traveling circus, he realizes Hurricane Emily will soon be making land farther inland than Saint Petersburg, Florida. Trapped in a drowning school bus as the levee crumbles, two female classmates and he must slog their way home past washed out roads and lurking alligators. Will they make it through the night before succumbing to the weather, or to the hungry leopard now running free in the storm?
Smith's writing allows the kids' distinct characters to shine through as we root for their athletic abilities and emergency skills to help secure their safety. We feel the dropping barometric pressure as bus windows are broken in howling winds, ripping the vehicle off-course. Excerpts of the repartee between the local newscaster and a snarky weather forecaster add a light and amusing touch. This is an enigmatic, fast read for middle-grade readers and teens who will root for our three heroes until the next installment of this series arrives, none too soon. You'll never sit in a school bus again without wishing you had a seatbelt!
Rating: 4 out of 5