Saturday, January 14, 2017

National Parks Mysteries #1 Wolf Stalker and #2 Rage of Fire

National Geographic published a series originally known as the National Parks Mystery series and later renamed the Mysteries in Our National Parks series.  The books were written by a mother-daughter writing team, Gloria Skurzynski and Alane Ferguson.  The series ran for 13 volumes.  All 13 books are available in softcover.  The first 12 books are also available in hardcover with dust jacket.

 1.  Wolf Stalker, 1997
 2.  Rage of Fire, 1998
 3.  Cliff-Hanger, 1999
 4.  Deadly Waters, 1999
 5.  The Hunted, 2000
 6.  Ghost Horses, 2000
 7.  Over the Edge, 2002
 8.  Valley of Death, 2002
 9.  Escape from Fear, 2002
10.  Out of the Deep, 2002
11.  Running Scared, 2002
12.  Buried Alive, 2003
13.  Night of the Black Bear, 2007

I found the first six titles in hardcover with dust jacket in a bookstore.  They caught my eye and were priced at $2.00 each.  I hesitated, thinking they probably wouldn't interest me.  Books published by National Geographic and set in national parks?  I didn't expect much, thinking that the books would probably consist of boring stories with lots of educational content, similar to the Stratemeyer Syndicate's travelogue books of the 1960s.  However, I purchased them anyway, figuring I would later regret the purchase. Still, I hoped to try them eventually, just in case.  That was in February 2016.

The books stayed on the shelf near where I read for month after month.  I'd look at them and wouldn't be interested.  Finally in December 2016, I grew disgusted by all the "mumbling" in Richie Tankersley Cusick's books and felt at a loss as to what to do.  I dropped the Cusick book on the floor as a means of dismissing it and looked around aimlessly.  My eyes fell on the six National Parks Mysteries books I had purchased months before and had repeatedly rejected.  Well, why not?

A reviewer on Goodreads stated in the first sentence exactly what I thought as I read the first book:  "This book was better than I thought it would be."  I was surprised to find the book to be quite enjoyable and interesting.  I was glad that I had finally tried the series.  Once I read the first few books, I quickly purchased all of the remaining titles.  I had found my escape.

The Landon family consists of parents Steven and Olivia and their children, Jack and Ashley. Steven runs a photo lab and hopes to be a professional photographer someday, and Olivia is a veterinarian.  At the beginning of the series, Jack is 12 while Ashley is about 10.  By the end of the series, both children are approximately one year older.

The rangers at the various national parks rely on Olivia's expertise to help them with various problems with the animals.  This results in the Landon family taking trips to the national parks as Olivia works on the problems. The Landon family also takes in foster children on a short-term basis, and in each book, the family has a new foster child who travels with them to the national park.

Each book incorporates park history and typically at least one legend into the text.  The information is not lengthy and is always presented in an interesting fashion that enhances the story.

In National Parks Mysteries #1 Wolf Stalker, Olivia has been asked to investigate the scene where a man's dog was killed by one of the wolves from Yellowstone National Park.  If Olivia cannot find a suitable explanation, opponents to the wolves may decide to begin killing them.  Meanwhile, the Landon's new foster child, Troy, runs away from the rest of the family, causing Jack and Ashley to journey into the frozen wilderness in search of him.

I enjoyed this book.

In National Parks Mysteries #2, Rage of Fire, the Landon family is vacationing at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  While there, Olivia agrees for the family to take Danny, a Vietnamese orphan, as a temporary foster child. The Landons will be taking Danny to his new guardian.  Danny pulls Jack and Ashley into a harrowing adventure in the national park, which results in them being chased by a mysterious woman.

Danny has a mild mystery in his background, but otherwise, this story is not much more than a long chase scene.

While I like the story, this is the weakest book in the series.

1 comment:

Michael Nabholz said...

I discovered this series when looking for fiction related to a national park that I was planning to visit.
Have read most of them and found them enjoyable.
I also remember that the chase in book 2 (Rage of Fire) was tedious.
The other national park series that I enjoy is the adult series by Nevada Barr.