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Hacking Timbuktu Hardcover – November 15, 2010

7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up-Parkour is a philosophy and an athletic endeavor that entails moving through a space as efficiently as possible; this usually requires vaulting over fences, running up walls, and leaping over naturally occurring obstacles. Danny, 16, is a parkour devotee trying to make it on his own in London as a freelance IT tech when members of the Knights of Akonio Dolo forcefully request that he use his hacking skills to help them recover a recently discovered clue that will lead them to two million mithquals of gold bars stolen from a temple in Timbuktu in the 14th century. Danny refuses to help the treasure hunters, but hacks on his own. When they learn that he has the clue, an international race is on, and Danny must use all of his skills to stay ahead of the game. The story is packed with chase scenes that imply a great deal of physically daring movement, "Kong, kong, underpass, swan. Double kong, underpass, kash vault, kong," but the terms mean nothing to parkour neophytes and therefore lack intensity. The clue takes Danny and his pal Omar to the Dogon region of Mali. The detailed description of the area and culture is the highlight of the book; unfortunately, respect for the culture is undermined by Danny's decision to crawl through a Dogon burial cave and desecrate the bodies inside in his haste to reach the gold. Greed leading to poor decisions is a theme throughout the book. While the story is far-fetched, it has enough action to satisfy avid adventure readers and teens interested in parkour.-Caroline Tesauro, Radford Public Library, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Davies delivers a satisfying mix of history, exotic locales, computer hacking, and parkour racing in this well-constructed adventure story. Two London teens, Danny and Omar, are connected to a 17-year-old boy in fourteenth-century Timbuktu through a doodle Danny discovers on a manuscript he has scanned. Turns out, the long-ago student stole a fortune in gold, hid it in a secret chamber under a mosque, and left a map to the treasure behind. Danny, a hacker for good causes, leads the quest to follow clues to the treasure. A large part of the fascination and energy of this book comes from Danny and Omar’s mode of travel—parkour, the art of traveling quickly around urban obstacles, using leaps, rolls, and purposeful falls. Parkour becomes a wonderfully apt metaphor for the way Danny and Omar find their way through a villain- and obstacle-rich course. Reminiscent of Nick Hornby’s Slam (2007), in which the teen hero skateboards, and Rick Riordan’s Lightning Thief series as well as his latest, The Red Pyramid (2010). Grades 7-10. --Connie Fletcher

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 730L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Clarion Books; 1 edition (November 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547390165
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547390161
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,564,205 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I live in a small town in Burkina Faso on the edge of the Sahara desert. Most of the year it is simply too hot to sleep inside the house, so my wife Charlie and I sleep under a mosquito net hanging from a tree in our back yard. We wake up to an early-morning soundtrack of donkeys, cockerels and cows.

Greeting is important in African societies, so I first go round saying hello to our neighbours: Jam waali (Did you pass the night in peace?), Noy koreeji maa (How is your family?), we sing the long greeting sequence back and forth. The answer to these questions is invariably Jam tan (Peace only). When they answer Jam tan, my neighbours are putting a brave face on things: in reality this region is one of the poorest in the world.

My work here as a missionary includes humanitarian relief: grain handouts, yes, but also working with individuals to find creative ways out of poverty. A donkey and cart for Bukari, a sheep for Mariama, school fees for Adama - the slow, intangible work of development.

A missionary is also a storyteller and I love sharing the stories of Jesus with people - ancient stories which still have incredible power to inspire and transform the human heart.

In the afternoon, I write. I bash away on my laptop with sweat dripping off my elbows. I have written three adventure books for young adults, three for children and two picture books beautifully illustrated by Christopher Corr. I also do occasional travel writing for the Guardian Weekly, the Sunday Times and Africa Geographic.

I'm so grateful to my friends and neighbours here for sharing their lives with me - it is their truth which inspires my fiction.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By iGertrude VINE VOICE on October 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is an exciting quest story. The book begins with a thief in an underground tunnel in the fourteenth century, Ankonio Dolo, a student at the University. Ankonio has tunneled his way into the treasury, where pure gold ingot bars are packed nine deep. His tunnel comes up behind the gold and he has spent years removing two million mitqals worth of gold bars. He has taken his gold to a safe place, a place he leaves a cryptic clue to once he is caught following an unfortunate series of events. Ankonio yells the gold is hidden in the Dogon cliffs and, "It takes a Dogon to know a Nommo," as he comes to a brilliant and shocking end.

In the twenty-first century, two young men are scanning ancient manuscripts to computer when they find the doodling of the long ago student in the margin of a page in a math textbook. That discovery launches a quest for the legendary gold. But one of them is going to be put out of the running immediately. The one left standing has one goal. The gold.

The London hackers are brought into the picture by a group calling itself Knights of Ankonio Dolo. Their methods are a little violent. Their goal? The gold. The abused hackers also now have a new goal. The gold. Omar and Danny are skilled in the practice of parkour - the ability to travel from one place to the next in a straight line very quickly, no matter the obstacles. They need to go to Timbuktu to find the cliffs of Dogon and the gold. The treasure hunters all converge on the same site.

This novel is very likable. The fourteenth century boy and Omar and Danny are all the same age and have many of the same sensibilities. It's easy to hate the hate-able characters, easy to feel sorry for the likable ones. This is an adventure novel and is likely to be especially liked by young teenage boys. It is not too dense and stays pretty tight with the story. Personally I would cover the book with warnings. "Don't try this at home."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By T. Patrick Killough on October 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am 75 years old. In my lifetime I have seen America absorb previously unfamiliar sports such as surfing, skateboarding and soccer. And now there is parkour.

In his Author's Note to his 2010 novel HACKING TIMBUKTU, missionary to Africa Stephen Davies, opines that he has just written "perhaps the first-ever parkour novel." You do not have to know anything about parkour before opening HACKING TIMBUKTU. The book will explain it all. But I was helped before I started reading, because my 15-year old grandson in Greenville, South Carolina took up parkouring (aka PKing) a couple of years back. I have ever since watched him leap across streams, scale pillars and fall without (too much) pain on shoulders, etc. after jumping off a ten-foot high tree house.

Action is non-stop from beginning of HACKING TIMBUKTU to end. Two English boys, Danny Temple and Omar Dupont (the latter bilingual in French, which helps greatly when the boys reach francophone Mali), are swept into a worldwide frenzied hunt for treasure. 700 years ago Akonio Dolo, a fictional 17-year old mathematics student in Timbuktu, Mali, had cleverly stolen millions of dollars of gold from a mosque. He left clues where to find his trove but they were not noticed until a university project scanning all ancient manuscripts of Timbuktu into computers popped up Akonio Dolo's clues.

Danny Temple is a world-class white hatted (i.e., he does no harm) computer hacker with some knowledge of parkour. His friend Omar Dupont is a master of parkour but a bit of a computer dud. Throughout HACKING TIMBUKTU there is constant interplay between the mental games played by the mind and the physical games played by bodies (called traceurs) that do parkour (PK).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By MH on October 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
So, I knew absolutely nothing about parkour before reading Hacking Timbuktu; however, in no way did this lack of knowledge diminish my enjoyment of the novel. I learned as I went. At first, I thought that all of the French terms would confuse me; I was woefully wrong, and they added great flavor to the read. Also, I knew little of the culture of Timbuktu but was enlightened as I read. This novel had a wonder international flavor to it.

Action and adventure run rampant! If you want page-turning excitement, this is a book you will want to read. This a great addition the the Young Adult genre. If only more of the YA novels taught lessons. . . (Greed hides within us).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By citymom VINE VOICE on December 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Mixed feelings about this book - the good, and probably why it got published, is the backdrop of parkour. Think it's the only book that uses this urban sport, and the descriptions of the moves and feel of them are great. Also good, the computer hacking elements which are quite accurate and the historic backdrop. The plot is well conceived: two boys unlock the code to find an ancient stash of gold an encounter obstacles on their way to find it.

The not so good is the writing - long chunks of dialogue that conveys too much plot information gives it a first draft feel.
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