Gannon and Wyatt’s latest adventure takes them to the tropical islands of Hawaii. However, we immediately learn that Hawaii is not just sunshine and surf. Surprised? So was I. Starting off in snowy Hawaii made me put aside all preconceptions, and get into the story.
First off, who are Gannon and Wyatt?
About the Travels with Gannon & Wyatt series
The Travels with Gannon & Wyatt series is a series of books for kids between grades 4 and 6 (though, I think middle schoolers will enjoy it as well). It follows the adventures of two brothers – based on real-life brothers – Gannon and Wyatt. The series uses a unique technique to share the main characters explorations around the world – travel journals. They take turns writing about their experiences throughout the books. The boys have distinct personalities, so each journal entry tells the story from that perspective. Additionally, the journal entries are filled with facts about the destinations that the boys know or learn along the way. Since the boys are homeschooled, they’re often tasked with research and homework about the places they visit. They get help from a local guide with the Youth Exploration Society – YES.
There is a lot going on within any one book, but don’t worry. These books are not a check-off list of must-know things about the destinations. What do I mean? Well, let’s take a look at what happened to Gannon and Wyatt in Hawaii.
Travels with Gannon & Wyatt: Hawaii
Before the kids join their parents for a sightseeing-type tour of Honolulu, they learn more about the history, culture, and environment of the Hawaii Islands with the help of YES guide Alana. Alana lives on the island of Hawai’i and has a particular interest in King Kamehameha. King Kamehameha was the king of Hawaii in the early 1800s and is credited for uniting the islands. At his death, his bones were hidden. Legend has it that the bones are protected by a spirit. Gannon and Wyatt learn that there’s a search underway to find the bones.
During their tour of the island, they find and save a man from drowning in the ocean. In their rescue, he tells them something in Hawaiian, hands them a map, and then the helicopters take him to the hospital. They then meet an archaeologist. He acts suspiciously questioning them about the drowning man, and anything the man may have given the boys.
Here the tour changes from a history, culture, and environment review of the islands, to an adventure. Who is the guy? Where does the map lead? Who (or what spirit) is following them?
The publishers sent me a copy of Travels with Gannon & Wyatt: Hawaii for review. Thoughts are all my own!
A Review of Travels with Gannon & Wyatt: Hawaii
This is not your average kids’ travel book. It expertly infuses the destination of Hawaii into the story that it almost feels like another character. You will learn more about Hawaii organically as they discover the island and culture. Through the interactions between the main characters, the people they meet, and the things the see, it’s easy to get lost in the world of Hawaii.
One of my favorite aspects of the book is the travel journaling style from Gannon and Wyatt. They have very different personalities so each of their journal entries takes on a different tone. Therefore, their individual interests and expert levels give the readers a more well-rounded Hawaii experience.
In the set-up for the main plot of the book, we learn more about the details of Hawaii and start to get a glimpse of who the boys are. At first, it seems that this book could just be about the boys discovering Hawaii. That changes as soon as they discover the man who almost drowned. Just as they’re shifted from touring the island, we shift. We have a mystery to solve. We join Gannon, Wyatt, and Alana as they try to figure out who the almost-drowned man was, what the map leads to, and what’s the archaeologists deal is. I like this shift.
In solving the mystery, we meet people who help answer the questions. Their knowledge of the history, geography, and beliefs of their community give us more insight into the Hawaiian culture. Instead of just telling us how things are, we see it through all of the interactions. It also draws readers in to figure out the mystery, they might not even realize that they’re learning so much about the culture.
There is so much packed in this book, that it’s hard to cover it all here. Education, culture, language, superstition, adventure, story, family relationships, and so on. However, in addition to all of that, I most loved how much the brothers enjoyed traveling. Travel didn’t just happen to them. They explored. And as explorers, I appreciated the emphasis on respecting local culture, language, and environment.
Keeping a travel journal
You can not read these books without wanting to keep your own travel journal. As mentioned in the back of the book, the series is “in the tradition of the historic journals kept by explorers such as Lewis and Clark, Dr. David Livingstone, and Captain James Cook…” The travel journal technique helped propel the story, and the real photos included in the pages helped understand what they were describing.
Since it’s a travel journal, the book becomes very relatable. This quote about exploring, was one of my favorites:
The difference between a good explorer and a great explorer is the way one sees things. It doesn’t matter if you are exploring the volcanic landscape of Hawaii or your own backyard, what’s important is how well you notice the small details that most people overlook… I also learned it by reading the journals of great exploreres who kept such meticulous field notes.
If that doesn’t make you want to be an explorer wherever you are, I don’t know what will. Fortunately, we have a guest post coming up on Friday from one of the authors of the Travels with Gannon & Wyatt series. Keith Hemstreet will share his thoughts on keeping travel journals. Don’t forget to check back.
The book comes complete with a Hawaii map, translation of common phrases, and a link to an online resource for learning more of the Hawaiian language. Additionally, if you want to know more about some of the things Gannon and Wyatt experienced, this links help:
- Here’s more information about King Kamehameha.
- The Youth Exploration Society mentioned in the book. (It’s a real organization founded by the authors of the Travels with Gannon and Wyatt series.)
- Find more photos from Hawaii, and information about other books and videos in the Travels with Gannon and Wyatt series, on their website.
Buy this book now on Amazon.
Age Range: Grades 4-6
Author: Patti Wheeler & Keeth Hemstreet
Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press