The Quest for Z: The True Story of Explorer Percy Fawcett and a Lost City in the Amazon by Greg Pizzoli (review)
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Reviewed by
Pizzoli, Greg The Quest for Z: The True Story of Explorer Percy Fawcett and a Lost City in the Amazon; written and illus. by Greg Pizzoli.Viking, 2017[42p]
ISBN 978-0-670-01653-2 $17.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 3–5

For Percy Fawcett, born into a family of British adventurers, a decade of military service in present-day Sri Lanka wasn’t exciting enough. Following his father’s path into the Royal Geographical Society, he led surveying expeditions for the Society for nearly two more decades, helping to map regions of the South American interior. There, rumors among indigenous people suggested a lost city existed deep within the Amazon, and Fawcett had himself a new mission in finding it. Unable to convince the RGS that this was a quest worth making, he funded his own tiny expedition (with his son, his son’s friend, and two local guides) through deals with the press for exclusive dispatches, which would be carried by “runners” from the field to wire offices. In April of 1925 they were off; a month later the outside world received a final dispatch and they were never heard from again. Optimism and tragedy plays out here in Pizzoli’s naïve artwork, with the pith-helmeted hero and his cookie-cutter colleagues swaggering with fatally innocent bravado. The contrast between Fawcett’s reported tales of adventure from his earlier expeditions and the abrupt silence that capped his mission is all the more chilling for the light-hearted look of the expedition. A photograph, glossary, and lists of selected sources round out the volume, but readers will find the most fascinating coda to be the remarks and bios of later explorers who tried to discover Fawcett’s fate, many of whom disappeared on his trail. Middle-grades biography and history report writers will be especially happy to discover so vivid a character with so tragic an end. [End Page 465]

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