National Geographic Kids: Explorer Academy: The Star Dunes & Extreme Oceans Review

Continue the adventure with Explorer Academy: The Star Dunes by Trudi Trueit, the fourth book in the popular fact-based fiction series (National Geographic Kids’ Under the Stars; March 2020, ages 8-12). Deemed “captivating” by the editors at and “exciting, fast-paced” by Booklist, the series is filled with thrilling adventures, high-tech cadets, cool science, far-away lands, and codes to crack.

Follow 12-year-old Cruz Coronado during his time at the prestigious Explorer Academy, where he and 23 kids from around the globe are training to become the next generation of great explorers. In addition to making new friends and attending cool classes, Cruz must also work to unlock clues to his family’s shadowy past if he is to solve the mystery of his mother’s untimely death. In this exciting follow-up to The Double Helix, a major discovery catapults Cruz and the Explorer Academy team into the limelight and they head off to Africa. Cruz and his fellow recruits tackle challenging missions to dispense life-saving medications to gorillas, thwart pangolin poachers and capture images of the last known cheetahs in Namibia — all the while discovering that protecting the world’s threatened species is dangerous business! After yet another strike from Nebula, someone close to Cruz ends up on the brink of death, leaving the ship in turmoil and Cruz and his team down a major player. The discovery of his mom’s next clue leads Cruz to a vast desert — and just when he thinks he’s run out of leads for solving the mystery of her tragic disappearance, an unlikely ally helps him pursue another piece of the ongoing puzzle. Can Cruz and his team stay one step ahead of Nebula and find the next piece of the hidden cipher?

With four critically acclaimed titles in this series now available, two companion nonfiction activity books and literally hours and hours of videos, games, and info on real-life explorers at , Explorer Academy is the perfect way to keep kids learning, reading and engaged. 

Extreme Ocean: Amazing Animals, High-Tech Gear, Record-Breaking Depths and Much More by National Geographic Explorer Sylvia A. Earle (National Geographic Kids Books, March 2020, Ages 8-12) A perfect pick for World Ocean Day (June 8th) and Shark Week in July. Discover the most outrageous aspects of the deep blue — from record-breaking depths to towering tsunamis, underwater giants to tiny sea creatures — along with ocean conservation challenges and what kids can do to help. An action-packed combination of science and adventure, famed National Geographic Explorer Sylvia Earle leads readers on an in-depth tour of life beneath the waves. Come face-to-face with whales and sharks, learn about the newest and most hi-tech ocean gear and gadgets, experiment with hands-on activities, and join Earle as she recounts her most daring dives. Packed with fascinating tidbits, animal profiles, and up-to-date science, each chapter combines stunning photography with fun, accessible text. Perfect for curious kids, ocean lovers, young explorers, and the classroom. Extreme Ocean reveals the mystery, majesty, danger, and — above all --the importance of our ocean.

Our Thoughts

Right now is a time of unprecedented learning-at-home for our children and for us. I know for my kiddos it has been challenging to keep them engaged in their daily school work. One of the things that my kids have to do as part of their school work is to log at least 20-30 minutes of reading each day. National Geographic Kids books are a great way of getting them to read for the allotted time without making it seem like they're actually doing their school work. 

When asked to review Explorer Academy: The Star Dunes and Extreme Oceans, my 10-year-old and 12-year-old immediately jumped to the task. 

My 10-year-old took on the task of reading Explorer Academy: The Star Dunes. While he didn't have the first three books in the series to go off of, he was happy to dive into this book. He said he felt the book was slow to start but as the pages turned, he was pulled into the story. He is now looking forward to reading the first three books and coming back to Explorer Academy: The Star Dunes to put the rest of the story together with this piece of the puzzle. The greatest thing about Explorer Academy is there is a website where the kids can go to learn more, explore new tech, play games, and keep their minds engaged without it seeming like they're being forced to learn. 

Extreme Oceans was right up my 12-year-old's ally! He had just completed a unit on oceans, climate change, and pollution right before our schools were shut down and was more than happy to continue to explore more about these subjects. Extreme Oceans explains what the ocean is, what is in the ocean, and how the ocean helps create weather patterns. The book does a good job of explaining about pollution, how it is affecting our world, and what we can do to help stop the pollution. Conservation of our planet is key in Extreme Oceans and I feel like it is teaching a whole new generation what it means to help conserve and protect this planet we inhabit. 

Over all, I would recommend both books as my kiddos have loved them and are now asking for more National Geographic Kids books, which makes this momma happy. I feel like reading is the key to learning and I'm thrilled that my kiddos are wanting to read and learn more, especially through an organization like National Geographic!

If you'd like to explore more books from National Geographic Kids, you can click on the following links: STEM for Kids, Reading, Books on Amazing Women, and Black History Month Books