“Lost in the Amazon – A Battle for Survival in the Heart of the Rainforest” is the third title in the “Lost” series published by Scholastic. All titles in the series, including Lost in the Amazon, are the author’s fictionalized account of real-life events.
A Battle for Survival in the Heart of the Amazon is based on the 1971 plane crash of a Lansa passenger flight from Lima to Pucallpa, Peru in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon rainforest. Incredibly, Juliane Koepcke was the only one of ninety-one passengers and crew to survive the lightening strike and subsequent crash. She recovered consciousness in the jungle still strapped to the three-seat section of the plane that was her assigned seat. Her mother and the third passenger from that row were not there. It is now assumed that the seat section acted as a parachute and the tree canopy further slowed her descent.
Juliane’s German parents were biologists who had worked in the rainforest since she was seven. She remembered her father’s warning from years back, that if ever lost in the forest she should follow a river because that would take her to settlements and help. Luck and persistence were on her side as she trudged through mud, high water, and rain, plagued by insects, hunger and infection in her wounds sustained in the crash.
In this retelling, Olson has captured the emotions of an exhausted, lonely and frightened but tenacious young girl determined to survive and find her family. His descriptions of the sounds, sights and dangers of the forest, plus the increasing pain from infection and hunger are believable and poignant.
In addition to Juliane’s story, there are many side stories of the search mission, the reactions of other families, plus previous misadventures of explorers in ancient and modern times; readers will learn much about how daunting the Amazon rainforest can be.
For middle school, and older students who want to know about the rainforest, and for those who enjoy survival stories, real-life suspense and tensions; they will want to read to discover Julian’s fate and future.