Orion Poe and the Lost Explorer
Summerhouse draws on the real-life historical mystery of Sir John Franklin's lost Arctic exploration to fuel this fast-paced middle-grade adventure. After 11-year-old Orion Poe helps a wounded stranger who appears on the beach near his grandfather's lighthouse, he winds up in possession of an old dispatch box, in which he finds a mysterious map. After taking the map to Professor Meriwether, an explorer, Orion is invited to join an expedition to the Arctic, in search of an uncharted island and Franklin's final fate. The trip is plagued by troubles, and Orion fights for his life against the hostile environment, a traitor among the crew, and a hidden society whose members are bent on maintaining their secret existence at all costs. Summerhouse delivers a rousing story filled with action and tense moments, but Orion's idiosyncratic voice lightens the overall tone. As a protagonist, Orion is a bit too good to be true—overly resourceful and resilient, and subject to enough death-defying circumstances to lay low people twice his age—but most young readers should find it easy to suspend disbelief and enjoy the ride. Ages 9–up.