Friday, December 4, 2020

Explorer Academy: The Star Dunes

Explorer Academy: The Star Dunes (Book 4) 
by Trudi Trueit 
216 pages; ages 8 - 12 
Under the Stars (National Geographic), 2020

In this most recent addition to the Explorer Academy series, we travel across scorching sand and through steamy jungles across Africa. Cruz Coronado and his friends are on their fourth mission (we met them previously here and here). Now the Explorer Academy students have been called upon to help deliver medication that can treat and prevent a virus from spreading through the mountain gorilla population in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda.

In the process, they discover that protecting the world’s threatened species can be a dangerous business.

Before they even begin the mission, Cruz is in trouble. While on an archaeological trip in Turkey, he decided to explore a cave by himself (breaking rule #1) and without telling the group leader (there goes rule #2). Now he’s at the bottom of a well, possibly pushed by an enemy trying to steal his journal. In Indiana Jones style, he manages to escape his predicament and get back to the group only to be tossed into yet another misadventure.

What I like about this book: In addition to mountain gorillas, the students get involved in creating a conservation plan for pangolins. There is a novel disease, requiring quarantine (this book hit the shelves days after our state began closing things and asking people to isolate). There are high-tech gadgets, nanobots, codes, puzzles, and tons of conservation science.

And no, I will not spoil the adventure. Suffice it to say this page-turner is laced with enough STEM stuff to (maybe) qualify for science class credit. Or at the very least inspire a few homeschooling kids to head out on a few explores of their own.

What’s really cool? There is a Field Journal for kids who want to be more involved in the Explorer Academy. Just sign in – there’s a Recruit Intake Form at the beginning – and pack your bags because the pages in this book take you on missions. You’ll explore your favorite spots, boldly plot future world travels, decipher a code, design a drone, and record your innermost thoughts and feelings along the way.

Thanks for dropping by today. On Monday we'll be hanging out at Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with other  bloggers. It's over at Greg Pattridge's blog, Always in the Middle, so hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copies provided by Media Masters Publicity.


  1. This sounds like a great adventure story. So interesting given the times that it involved delivering medication and a quarantine.

  2. I have enjoyed this series immensely. Thanks for giving it more recognition on my MMGM anniversary.

  3. I haven't read any of these books, but I really should. You make them sound so inviting. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  4. What a great adventure series for teens right now. I love the idea of mission to save gorillas with a medication. Very timely book for readers at home. And the National Geographic's Field Journal is a really cool idea for readers!

  5. What a neat story! We need to show kids that it is worth protecting endangered species, and I love all of the STEM elements here as well. Thanks for the great post!

  6. Oh, this sounds so intriguing! I also like that it's set in Uganda. The Field Journal sounds like a great way to get readers to interact!