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The Cooper Kids Adventure Series

The Cooper Kids Adventure Series July 31, 2020

Since we’ve been so enjoying the Cooper Kids Adventure Series—with a focus on Door in the Dragons’s Throat and Escape from the Island of Aquarius—I thought I’d take a moment to share the teaser trailers for the remaining books in the series, along with some commentary. (I haven’t decided what I want to review next, including whether it should be another Cooper Kids book or something else—I’m all ears!)

The Tombs of Anak

An angry terror lurks at the bottom of a dark pit… Jay and Lila Cooper are back for another adventure, this time in search of a young treasure-seeker whose ambitions drove him to the bottom of a pit, never to return. In their struggle to understand what happened to him, the Coopers learn of a greedy, man-eating creature known as Ha-Raphah, who terrorizes locals into worshiping him. Although they are certain he is extremely dangerous, Jay and Lila are determined to uncover the truth. This story of dangerous exploits and a mission to stop an evil that holds a population in its crushing grip will have you hooked from start to finish.

I tried rereading this one and got completely confused and bored and put it down. I picked it up just now and skimmed the rest, and almost all of it involves the Coopers being chased by a giant through underground tombs in Palestine. They eventually realize that the giant is a descendant of the biblical Anak, whose sons were giants. While the children of Anak intermarried with the Philistines and did not remain “a pure race”, this one guy was born a giant because his mother and father were both the rare “pure Anakim.” Genetics does not work this way.

But don’t worry! They kill the giant in the tombs and convert his non-giant brother to Christianity and leave the non-giant brother excited about converting his people and making them all Christians, so it works out okay.

Basically, this one is about superstitious Middle Easterners again.

Trapped at the Bottom of the Sea

Lila Cooper awaits rescue-and reconciliation with her dad-in a top-secret weapons pod on the ocean floor. Meanwhile, her brother and father race terrorists to reach Lila before she runs out of air. Will they arrive in time?

This one is legit amazing. Utterly and totally amazing. I actually think it may be the most important book in the series in terms of characters. The book opens with Lila finally getting angry at her father for dragging her to the four corners of the earth, and for never talking about their mother, or letting them talk about her, or say they miss her. Lila gives her father what-for, so Dr. Cooper—they’re in Japan at the time—decides Lila needs to be shipped to her aunt in Seattle post haste, and immediately pulls strings and puts her on a military plane.

Like, within hours.

The plane is carrying a Top Secret Laser, but the crew has been infiltrated with Communists, who stage a takeover. The plane ends up off course, and then there’s a struggle, and it goes down. Just in time, a Good Christian Soldier puts Lila in the sealed metal pod where the laser is stored (in case something goes wrong).

Lila is trapped in a metal pod at the bottom of the ocean for like a week, and she spends that time being berated by God for the way she treated her father. She remembers a time when her father blew up at her over nothing and then her mother told her that her father had a lot on his mind, and that it was her responsibility as a girl person to cater to and bend themselves to the needs of the men around her. Okay, so that might involve some paraphrasing, but not much. Anyway, Lila realizes that she did Very Wrong to blow up at her father.

Meanwhile, there’s this character—Mrs. Flaugherty—who is set up to be the same type as Marian in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Except because this is a Christian book, we can’t have any drinking contests. Instead, when we’re introduced too Mrs. Flaugherty … she’s in the middle of a staring content. It goes on for hours. I may need to share that scene with you at some point, even without ever reviewing the book, because it is something else. It turns out that the whole reason she started the staring contest is that there’s a poisonous snake in her pants.

That was not a typo.

Because Peretti is nothing if not repetitive, Mrs. Flaugherty later wins a snail eating contest in order to gain possession of a necklace that proves to be a major clue in Lila’s whereabouts.

There’s also a missionary and a tribe of cannibals (while said missionary has managed to convert this tribe, he sometimes he finds it convenient to let other people, especially island-hopping Communists, think they’re still cannibals, with great fanfare). There are also lots more Communists, and the U.S. Navy shows up as well.

Toward the end of the book, Mrs. Flaugherty scolds Dr. Cooper, telling him he should talk with the children about their mother, and that it’s been wrong of him to keep all of that shut up. So as the book reaches its final paragraphs, and Dr. Cooper and his children are alone, headed to the states for some much-needed down time, Dr. Cooper brings up the children’s mother. Jay and Lila are like like, finally. 

But Dr. Cooper never apologizes.

The Secret of the Desert Stone

Biblical archeologist Dr. Jacob Cooper arrives in Togwana with his children Jay and Lila and one goal-to discover the secret behind the two-mile-high Stone that has mysteriously appeared overnight. Who could have excavated, carved, and transported the colossal Stone? The Coopers’ uneasiness soon turns into dread as they are watched and threatened by the country’s new government and brutal dictator Id Nkromo. Follow the Coopers as they race to solve the mystery of the desert stone!

I need to get my hands on this one and reread it, because reasons. Leaving aside the brutal African dictator—cough racism cough—a two-mile-high stone would be nearly four times as tall as the tallest building. This makes no sense at all. Also, this stone is perfectly smooth, cube shaped if I remember correctly, with exact edges and corners. And everyone is like “who made this thing!” Um, what.

None of this makes any sense.

I do not remember how this book ends. I do seem to remember, though, that God put the stone there because the brutal dictator was about to go to war against some African tribal groups that have been converted by a Christian missionary—the stone appears between the two groups, protecting the converted tribes from the dictator’s expansionist and money grubbing tendencies. Wait—maybe he was planning to build a dam? Anyway the stone’s appearance is kind of like when God collapsed the sides of the Red Sea in on the Egyptian army as it followed the Israelites—it is a barrier between God’s people and their enemies.

The Deadly Curse of Toco-Rey

Lila and Jay Cooper have joined their dad on a mission to the jungles of Central America, where a group of American treasure hunters have already become the victims of the deadly curse of Toco-Rey. Before Dr. Cooper can solve the mystery, his children are kidnapped and his integrity is put to the test. What price will he pay to get his children back? Is the treasure in the burial tomb of Kachi-Tochetin really worth more than gold? Follow the Coopers as they explore unknown ruins, plunge through dangerous jungles, face hostile natives, and battle ancient evil forces. Will their courage and faith in God bring them through?

I’ve reread this one, and wow. What’s odd about this description is that the natives aren’t actually the bad guys—sure, the natives initially capture them, but once Dr. Cooper explains what’s going on they listen and actually join forces against the bad guys, who are actually war profiteers. But still we get “hostile natives”? This is the only book that has natives that aren’t hostile without a missionary. For once, there is no missionary!

But, Jesus, the amount of child endangerment in this book is extreme. Let’s lower two children into a pit full of poisonous flying slugs, that sounds like a good idea! Also, flying slugs makes no sense. Slugs can’t fly. Physics!

Oh and these slugs? In the morning they’re green, and if you get their slime on you you will go crazy, and also turn green (as in, your skin will turn green). In the evening, the slugs are yellow, and if you get their slime on you you will die instantly. But! If you’ve touched the green slime and you’ve gone mad, and then you touch the yellow slime when you’re all green, instead of killing you it acts as an anecdote, and returns you to normal. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m skeptical. I don’t think chemistry and biology work this way.

And physics. Slugs couldn’t fly even if they had wings.

Dr. Cooper is told at first that the green slime is harmless. There’s this pit they need to go into because there’s a tunnel to treasure in it, but flying slugs live in the pit. Instead of going in in the morning when the flying slugs are green—harmless, so he has been told—Dr. Cooper decides to wait until the evening, when the slugs will be yellow and poisonous, because that’s when the slugs will be out hunting. Um. What now?

This is such idiocy I don’t understand how anyone survived this book. Common sense would dictate that you go to the places the flying slugs live when they’re harmless, not when they’re so poisonous that touching even one would kill you. Of course, we later learn that the green slime makes you go crazy and turn into a raving monster and try to kill everyone around you—and it’s Lila who gets got—so there’s also that. How’s about not go into pits like this without full-body protective gear? And also maybe don’t send children in at all?

I should perhaps also note that Jay and Lila are identified in this book as being 14 and 13, so either they never age or the Coopers are really busy.

Anyway! Basically, this book is about primitive Central American natives and the secrets of their poisonous darts. And also weapons dealers. Because the bad guys are actually weapons dealers who want to make tons of money off of selling this poison to both sides. It’s the Cold War, after all.

The Legend of Annie Murphy

In 1885, the Murphy mine struck gold. According to legend, Annie Murphy killed her husband out of greed, but just before she was to be hanged for the murder, she escaped. Now, a hundred years later, there have been sightings of Annie Murphy’s “ghost.” The Coopers unwittingly become involved in a mystery that finds them caught between the past and the present.

This one is … weird. There are ghosts and time traveling and things, and a giant picture of a woman etched in an optical illusion in a mountain—like, a specific woman—and I really can’t remember more than this, because I don’t have a copy of it and thus haven’t been able to do a reread.

Flying Blind

Fourteen-year-old Jay Cooper is enjoying the view from his Uncle Rex’s Cessna when a low-flying 757 speeds past them. Caught in its wind turbulence, their small plane is shaken violently, knocking Rex unconscious and leaving Jay blind from a head injury.

Oh hey, look who’s still 14! All of this has happened to these poor kids within the span of a single year! They are going to need so much therapy. Anyway,I remember this one feeling similar to the one where Lila is trapped in a secret weapons pod at the bottom of the ocean. Both involve a race against time that largely takes place in one location (in the pod, or in the plane). I think the pilot dies and Jay has to take over?

Very The Hatchet.

So there you have it! Those are the rest of the Cooper Kids books. Adventure and excitement and racism and child endangerment and so much more! I found one thing that was pointed out fairly early on very insightful—usually in books like these, the kids don’t have their dad with them. There’s child endangerment—but only because the kids are putting themselves out there. When you add a present and involved father, and still have the kids do all sorts of very dangerous things, it reads very very differently.

Why couldn’t these books have been just about Jay and Lila? Was Peretti so anxious to have a stand-in that he couldn’t imagine a book that actually centered kids? It would have been easy to have Dr. Cooper be work-obsessed and to have Jay and Lila run off on all sorts of side adventures without telling him—but then they’d get to be the heroes and solve the mystery or save the day (that’s how this genre goes), and I suppose Peretti couldn’t have that. 

This makes me want to reread the Left Behind books that were centered on teens. I barely remember them, but I think they’d be an interesting comparison to the Cooper Kids Adventure Series. Oh, holy smokes—there are 40 of them. Yikes!

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