Adventure series (Willard Price)

The Adventure series is a collection of children's adventure novels by Willard Price. The original series, comprising 14 novels, was published between 1949 and 1980, and chronicles the adventures of teenagers Hal and Roger Hunt as they travel the world collecting exotic and dangerous animals. Beginning in 2012, Anthony McGowan published four more novels in the series, which featured Hal and Roger's children.

Writing Edit

Shortly before his death, in 1983, Price wrote that:

My aim in writing the Adventure series for young people was to lead them to read by making reading exciting and full of adventure. At the same time I want to inspire an interest in wild animals and their behavior. Judging from the letters I have received from boys and girls around the world, I believe I have helped open to them the worlds of books and natural history.[1]

Characters Edit

Hal and Roger Hunt are the sons of animal collector John Hunt; they have taken a year off school to help capture animals for their father's collection on Long Island, New York, after which the captive specimens are sold to zoos, circuses and safari parks. In Amazon Adventure, the boys' literary debut, Hal is 18 years old and Roger is 13 years old.

Hal is the typical hero: tall, handsome, and muscular, possessing an almost limitless knowledge of natural history and a caring and trusting disposition. Roger, on the other hand, is an ardent practical joker, often mischievous and cheeky but just as resilient and resourceful as his older brother sometimes even more resourceful.

Villains Edit

Each novel in the Adventure series is notable for its memorable selection of loathsome villains and enemies. Some of these, through their interactions with Hal and Roger, are led to redeem their past misdeeds, while others simply suffer the consequences of their actions. Only one character, the cunning "Reverend" Merlin Kaggs, appears as a villain in more than one book.

Revival Edit

In October 2006, the Price family of Holden, Massachusetts entered into an agreement to sell the copyrights and related legal rights for the fourteen Adventure series titles, plus the right to use Price's name, to London-based literary brand owner and investor Fleming Literary Management for an undisclosed six-figure sum.[2][3]

In July 2011, it was announced that British author Anthony McGowan had been contracted by Puffin Books to write four new books based on Willard Price's classic wildlife adventures series.[4] The first, Leopard Adventure, will see Hal's son Fraser and Roger's daughter Amazon meet for the first time, before sending them off on an adventure to save the rare Amur leopard. Brothers Hal and Roger, who enjoyed a close relationship as teenagers, have fallen out in the new books.[4]

"Hal Hunt has set up this organisation which goes around the world saving species and his son Fraser works with him on that. He's fallen out with Roger who's a freelance conservationist – there's some sibling rivalry there. Hal's slightly hand in hand with big business, he's slightly compromised, and Roger's more of a free spirit," said McGowan, a fan of the Price novels as a child. "Roger and his wife have disappeared and because Amazon's parents have gone missing, Fraser comes to meet her."[4]

Retrospective reviews Edit

David Barnett, writing for The Guardian in 2010, praised the book series, writing that "Price not only knew all the right buttons to press to excite a young reader – exotic locations, nasty villains, wild animals and lashings of peril – but also managed to weave into his adventures a strong yet subtle conservation message."[5]

Novelists David Mitchell[6] and Mark Gatiss[7] have cited the Adventure series as among their favourite childhood books. Anthony Horowitz discovered the Adventure series at age 11, and has cited the series as an influence on his own writing.[8] “If you read Willard Price," said Horowitz, "you'll find the chemical formula for an Alex Rider book: page-turning, lots of action, lots of activity, good strong characters.”[9]

Analysis Edit

According to Richard Phillips, who studied the politics of the series, Willard Price acknowledges decolonisation in his writing, but does so through a "conventionally colonial lens."[10] He adds that:

Price acknowledges decolonization but reproduces colonialist tropes in his portrayal of Africa. His adventure stories illustrate the sort of geographical literature that critics sought to change, initially to catch up with the facts and values of decolonization, ultimately to contribute to the critical transformation of those facts and values.[10]

Books Edit

Willard Price Edit

Title Year Summary
Amazon Adventure 1949 Hal and Roger travel to the Amazon rainforest, where they embark on an expedition into the uncharted territory of the Pastaza River.
South Sea Adventure 1952 Hal and Roger become stranded on an island in the South Seas, in the manner of Robinson Crusoe.
Underwater Adventure 1954 Hal and Roger join the Oceanographic Institute as part of an underwater operation in the South Seas.
Volcano Adventure 1956 Hal and Roger join forces with volcanologist Dr. Dan Adams to study volcanoes in the Pacific.
Whale Adventure 1960 Hal and Roger join the crew of a whaling ship, working under the nefarious Captain Grindle.
African Adventure 1963 Hal and Roger Hunt search for a man-eating leopard, but fall afoul of a sinister organisation known as the Leopard Society.
Elephant Adventure 1964 Hal and Roger attempt to track down a rare white elephant in Africa's Mountains of the Moon.
Safari Adventure 1966 Hal and Roger join warden Mark Crosby in Tsavo National Park, where wildlife poaching is a major problem.
Lion Adventure 1967 Hal and Roger must help save the people of Mtito Andei from a man-eating lion.
Gorilla Adventure 1969 Hal and Roger search for mountain gorillas deep in the Congo jungle.
Diving Adventure 1969 Hal and Roger embark on a specimen-collecting trip to Undersea City.
Cannibal Adventure 1972 Hal and Roger travel to New Guinea, where they make contact with a cannibalistic tribe.
Tiger Adventure 1979 Hal and Roger are in India, where they search for a rare white tiger, high in the Himalayas.
Arctic Adventure 1980 Hal and Roger Hunt go to Greenland to capture wild animals and send them to their father's animal farm on Long Island. With the help of Nanook, a huge polar bear, and Olrick, a Greenlandic Inuit, they capture many animals. However, all is not well. They meet an American rogue called Zeb who is determined to kill the two teenagers.

Anthony McGowan Edit

Title Year Summary
Leopard Adventure 2012 Amazon Hunt (age 12, daughter of Roger) and her cousin Frazer (age 13, son of Hal) must brave the Russian wilderness to save the Amur leopard.
Bear Adventure 2013 Amazon's parents have been lost in a plane crash, and her only hope is that they are wandering the wild forests of Canada.
Shark Adventure 2013 On a remote Polynesian island, Amazon and Frazer Hunt are saving rare leatherback turtles.
Python Adventure 2014 Amazon's parents have been kidnapped, and their trail leads to Mumbai, India.

References Edit

  1. ^ Rubinstein, Matt (2005), 'Adventure Adventure Archived 2006-08-20 at the Wayback Machine'
  2. ^ Kleinman, Mark (17 November 2006). "Fleming media banks on Price estate". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  3. ^ "Willard Price & Fleming Literary". Fleming Literary. Archived from the original on 2007-10-08. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  4. ^ a b c Flood, Alison (28 July 2011). "Willard Price's Adventure series to be relaunched". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 August 2011.
  5. ^ David Barnett, "Willard Price's stories make reading an adventure for young people" The Guardian, 21 July 2010. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  6. ^ Wyatt Mason, "David Mitchell, the Experimentalist", The New York Times, 25 July 2010. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  7. ^ Adams, Tim (December 8, 2019). "Mark Gatiss: 'We live in an age of popinjays – Rees-Mogg, Johnson – and we fall for it'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  8. ^ Horowitz, Anthony (March 7, 2020). "In defence of modern children's books". The Spectator. Archived from the original on 2020-07-21. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  9. ^ Wallace, Arminta (November 1, 2013). "Alex Rider's nemesis: from terrified teen to assassin". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 2013-11-01. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
  10. ^ a b Richard Phillips, "Politics of reading: decolonizing children's geographies" Cultural Geographies (April 2001), 8(2): 125-150. Retrieved 19 November 2015.