Author: Art Collins
Published by: A&J Publishing
Publication Date: November 2015
Page Count: 70-80
Source: e-books provided by author
Audience: Young Adult – Fantasy/Adventure
Archibald and Jockabeb are two brothers who go on amazing and crazy adventures when they’re young. These adventures take them into the forest where they find a secret cave and meet an Indian boy transformed into a dragon by dark magic, a special pony, and evil creatures that attack them. It takes them to a remote boys’ camp in the mountains where the legend of their Indian friend continues with an evil black mountain lion; and in the third book it takes them deep into the Amazon Rainforest, where their uncle lives, and they have to fight off an Indian shaman that can transform into a black panther.
I love how the stories are not just separate adventures, they are all intertwined with the first grand adventure they go on. That first journey into the woods sets off a series of events that leads to each adventure after. Whereas the first two books are connected by the young Indian’s ancestors, the third book is linked by magic.
The use of magic is very subtle. Yes, there are evil creatures that are half crow/half wolf, and the Indian is turned into a dragon, but it all feels natural. It’s based on the Indian tribes and their beliefs. Archibald and Jockabeb, along with the people they meet, tend to take the magic in stride. The children accept the magic easy enough, nothing is better than a child’s imagination after all, but even the adults seem to accept the magic with no disbelief.
I love the characters of Archibald and Jockabeb, they are typical preteen boys who love to explore and want to be granted a bit of independence. Their parents are very easy going, letting them explore the forest, camp out by themselves, fly to the other side of the country, and even to a completely foreign country in a different hemisphere. But they also have the typical reactions of boys their age. They get frightened, but Archibald being the oldest is always there to spur Jockabeb on when it becomes too much for him. They face life-threatening events and take it all in stride. But you can see them growing up with each new adventure, they are becoming more self-aware and finding themselves. I love that you can see them actually growing.
I have only read the first three books in the series, but Archibald and Jockabeb’s adventures continue on in at least six more books. Each book taking them into even more fantastical and crazy adventures around the world. This is a great series for any boy or girl who has an interest in books, they read easily and they’re full of adventure, magic, and imagination.
First Sentence: When Archibald and Jockabeb were young, they did almost everything together.
Favorite Character: Jockabeb
Least Favorite Character: Vengolus
The first book in the series begins when Archibald and Jockabeb sneak out of their house at midnight to hunt for a secret cave that was marked on an old map they’d found earlier in the day. The two brothers, who are twelve and eleven, end up finding and entering the secluded cave hidden deep within an eerie forest. After the boys descend a stone staircase, they discover a subterranean lake where an underwater dragon lives. The underwater dragon is actually a young Indian brave, Haktu, who many years before was transformed into the dragon by four evil warriors of the Black Raven Tribe. After Archibald repeats the magic words, “Nito, Vito, Samu,” Haktu is returned to his natural body. The three young boys then run for their lives when they are chased by flying wolf-crows that are part snarling wolf and part giant black crow.
This initial encounter begins Archibald’s and Jockabeb’s first amazing adventure—an incredible adventure that spans the next year. During that time, the two brothers become reacquainted with Haktu after they along with their younger sister, Tess, find his lost pony, Uno. Still pursued by the deadly wolf-crows, the boys learn more about Haktu’s family, including the details of how he was captured by the Black Raven warriors. When Haktu finally says good-bye, he gives Archibald a magic blue feather. The blue feather plays an important role in subsequent books as Archibald and Jockabeb find themselves in one life-threatening predicament after another.
While the settings change from book to book, the two brothers always meet fascinating characters—some good, and some evil; some human, and some anything but; some from this world, and some otherworldly beyond belief. As the boys grow older and travel across the United States, and to faraway places like the Amazon, the Caribbean, the Arctic, and the Orient, they learn the true meaning of friendship. The reader also learns interesting facts about the various places Archibald and Jockabeb visit, while witnessing the classic battle between the forces of good and evil play out in different ways.