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Dylan Barstow never expected to be wandering the jungle of Papua New Guinea the summer before eighth grade, but stealing a car has its consequences. After screwing up one time too many, Dylan is sent to finish the summer with his uncle, Todd, an ex-marine determined to teach his nephew respect and discipline. If that weren't bad enough, Dylan's uncle is forcing him to be part of a PNG search team looking for the wreckage of the Second Ace, a B-17 bomber that his grandfather flew in WWII. Feeling angry and misunderstood, Dylan strikes out into the dense jungle alone and quickly loses his way, realising this time that his foolishness might cost him his life. Reverent in tone, Mikaelsen's novel offers harrowing accounts of veterans' war experiences that are brought home by Dylan's struggles, both in the jungle and in everyday life. Only after confronting isolation, poisonous snakes, and crippling hunger does Dylan truly understand the value of freedom and his own capacity for change. Grades 3-6. --Julia Smith

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