Happy Book Birthday to <I>The 8th Continent</I> by Matt London!
It’s always fun to celebrate an author’s debut novel, and this one’s in the family; Matt London is a dear friend of mine, as well as Jordan Hamessley London’s other half. Matt's one of the hardest working writers I know, and I'm so excited that people finally will be able to read his novel. Tomorrow, his first book, The 8th Continent, will start finding its way into the hands and hearts of middle grade readers — as well as older readers who love a good adventure story and anyone who hasn’t quite grown up.
Yep, I’m definitely the latter. While I was reading an advance copy of The 8th Continent last weekend, it kept reminding me of favorite stories from my childhood. I used to love adventure books starring smart kids like the Danny Dunn series by Raymond Abrashkin and Jay Williams; the Alvin Fernald books by Clifford B. Hicks; the Three Investigators by Robert Arthur, Jr.; Matthew Looney by Jerome Beatty, Jr.; and of course, the Tom Swift books by Victor Appleton. It also captured the same humor, epicness, and thrills of one of the best cartoons of all time, DuckTales, and the fun and gee-whiz factor of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and Spy Kids.
I know I’ve just horribly dated myself, but what I’m getting at is I loved The 8th Continent, but 10-year-old me would have been obsessed with it. Oh, for a time machine…
The 8th Continent has broad appeal in the age of its readers and their interests, but if your kids love science, technology, and biology, you have to give them this book. There are lots of teachable moments throughout, from little quizzes forced upon the main characters — 10-year-old Evie and her 11-year-old brother, Rick — to discussions you can have with young readers about ecology, zoology, and even morality and family dynamics.
There’s also plenty of action and excitement with some tense chapters that will keep you turning the pages, and Matt sure knows how to turn a phrase. His liberal use of goofy similes always made me smile, and I often laughed out loud. One of my favorite sentences: “And then he saw it, a vacant white socket behind the wires, looking at him like a surprised ghost.” So adults will enjoy reading this adventure with their kids, too, and it could also be an introduction to other stories they’ll like: Matt has filled the book with sly nods to books like The Wind in the Willows and Charlotte’s Web, and when kids pick up on them, they’ll probably be grinning as much as I was.
But wait, what’s it about? Here’s the synopsis:
Evie and Rick Lane are determined to transform the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — a real life pile of floating garbage — into an eighth continent, using a special formula developed by their father. This new continent will be a place where their family can live free from the intervention of Winterpole, a global rule-maker run by bumbling bureaucrats. But eleven-year-old pink-and-plastic-obsessed Vesuvia Piffle, the secret mastermind behind the villainous Condo Corp, also has her sights set on this new land, and she wants to use it to build a kind of Miami-on-steroids. Now, it’s a race against time and across the world as the kids gather the items they need to create their continent. Because whoever controls the eighth continent controls our future. And the future can’t be both “green” and pink.
In honor of Matt’s release day, I’m giving away one hardcover copy of The 8th Continent (open internationally). To enter, just leave a comment saying what you would do with your own new continent and then fill out the Rafflecopter form below. And be sure to wish Matt a happy release day!
Congrats again, Matt! I’m really glad I won’t have too long to wait for the next book. :) I think this is a charming and clever series that will stick with kids for a long time and one day be remembered as a childhood favorite by a geeky 36-year-old reader like me.