The Adventure Books by Willard Price

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The Adventure Books by Willard Price

The Adventure books were written by Willard Price, a journalist and naturalist who travelled the world working for National Geographic, among other publications. The series tells the Adventures of Hal and Roger Hunt, two young naturalists and “Take’em alive” men who capture animals for conservation and wildlife parks.

The Background
John Hunt owns a wildlife park in America and is a wildlife specialist who specialises in taking animals alive. His two sons, Hal and Roger, are both years ahead of their classes, so he makes them an offer: stay in school, or take a year out to travel the world and learn the family business. Not surprisingly both choose the second.
In the late forties and a culture of big game hunters, taking animals alive was a rarity, and the boys often had to explain what they were doing and why they did not want to kill the animals. In their long year out, the boys travel to Africa with their Safari team, the America and the South Seas with Captain Ike and the Lively Lady and the waters of Australasia with Captain Ted and the Flying Cloud, as well as India, the arctic and other exotic locales.

Hampered by individual opponents ranging from the comically inept to the psychopathically dangerous, dealing with rare and dangerous animals and learning from the locals, the boys take younger readers on a thrilling ride across the world. Hal and Roger are at the same time characters and literary devices. Hal, the older is nineteen, described as tall and broad, and possesses vast knowledge of the natural world. His brother Roger is fourteen, smaller and has a natural way with animals – which does not always work to his benefit. While Hal teaches his brother about animals and their trade, he is also teaching the reader.

Perhaps because of the need to get the boys out on their own to drawn in the books audience their father, John Hunt, rarely appears. When he does is is usually called away or injured, leaving the boys to fend for themselves. However, father figures, such as Captain Ike or Captain Ted are around to act as mentors on those areas of science (or sailing) Hal is not aware of.

About the series
There are fourteen books in the series written between 1948 and 1980. This time span means that there are occassionally continuity issues. The safari team’s dog changes gender between books, and the brothers occasionally appear to forget that they have already encountered some of the creatures they run into in later books. Also some of the knowledge and thinking about animals is outdated, particularly in the earlier books where one notable plot device has since been disproved.

There are some debates about order. Although in general the books are written in chronological order the ending of the thirteenth book, Tiger Adventure, is the end of the boy’s year out. Arctic Adventure, which comes after it feels like an afterthought, although readers can easily imagine that it is where the boys were sent for their summer holiday.

In chronological order the books are:

1. Amazon Adventure
2. South Sea Adventure
3. Underwater Adventure
4. Volcano Adventure
5. Whale Adventure
6. African Adventure
7. Elephant Adventure
8. Safari Adventure
9. Lion Adventure
10. Gorilla Adventure
11. Diving Adventure
12. Cannibal Adventure
13. Tiger Adventure
14. Arctic Adventure

About Willard Price

Willard Price was a journalist who traveled the world reporting for organisations such as National Geographic.  His job took him to rare and exotic locations, including six years in Japan at a time when it was virtually closed to the Western world. He decided to write a series of books to share his adventures with children, hoping to inspire in them a love of the natural world. Despite his series of travel articles and an extensive range of non-fiction books, he is best remembered for his Adventure Books.

More Resources
About Willard Price Adventure Books A site with pages about each book, reviews and details. Also information on where to find the books, which are currently out of print.

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