The Jaguar Stones Trilogy by Jon and Pamela Voelkel

I'll always remember the day I met husband-and-wife team Jon and Pamela Voelkel at Anderson's Bookshop. It was approximately two hours after Library Journal announced the 2011 Library Journal Movers and Shakers. Pamela announced to the audience that I made the list. Thank you, Pamela! 

Today, I am excited  to feature Jon and Pamela on Watch.Connect. Read. I wrote the red words, Pamela wrote the purple words, and Jon wrote the black words.  

The Jaguar Stones is a fast-paced, funny adventure series set in present-day Central America. The main characters are a 14-year-old boy from Boston, a contemporary Maya girl who teaches him about life in the rainforest, and the twelve mythical, monstrous, madcap Maya Death Lords.

It’s written to be first and foremost a rip-roaring adventure story, full of twists, turns and cliffhangers to keep kids turning the pages. But, along the way, it’s also sneakily educational. All our Maya facts are checked by a leading archaeologist.

Maya glyphs are one of the most sophisticated writing systems of the ancient world. They don’t just relate facts, they convey poetry. They’re also beautiful. It has been said that where Egyptian hieroglyphs are straight and spiny like plants in the desert, Maya glyphs are lush and tangled like the jungle.

We travel all over America to do school visits, thanks to our beloved indie bookstores and our wonderful publishers Egmont USA. In school vacation time, we take our own three children down to Central America to visit the ruins, explore the jungle, canoe underground rivers, and talk to Maya people. We’ve visited over forty Maya sites now, and the only time our kids complained was when the only thing for breakfast was live termites! 

Al Roker’s Book Club for Kids was the most terrifying experience of my life. But it was also fascinating to see behind the scenes at the Today show.

 There were four book club kids in the studio and another on Skype, each of whom had a question for us. You don’t know the questions ahead of time, but we were told that if we took longer than thirty seconds to answer, the last child would not get to ask their question. No pressure! 

If we visited your school or library we’d make you laugh, scream, and howl like a howler monkey! (And along the way, we’d teach you a lot about the Maya.)

Our website is something I’m very proud of. When we began writing the Jaguar Stones books, the Maya pyramids were just a cool background to the story. But as we found out more, we realized how much misinformation is out there about the Maya and how difficult it is to keep up-to-date with research. So we’ve been using our contacts with archaeologists to develop a portal for teachers. They can go on the website to learn about Maya glyphs, watch a Maya math demo, study Maya calendrical systems, and see all kinds of different Maya archaeologists talking about their work. There’s also a Q&A tab for students to ask their questions, a feature on Jaguar Stones inspired school projects, and much, much more!

*Reading is the glue that holds our family together. Even when your teens are going through an “I don’t want to talk about it” phase, you can always talk about books and the characters in them. Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls opened up a conversation that has never ended. Reading with the kids at night has always been my favorite part of the day. I’m reading Wonder with our youngest at the moment, and her bedtime gets earlier and earlier so we can find out what happens next!

Mr. Schu, you should have asked us about our free lesson plan CD. I’ve just updated it and I’m sure it’s now the most comprehensive source on the Maya and life in the rainforest. It’s cross-curricular and includes everything from math and science to language arts and sport. It’s absolutely free to teachers, librarians and home-schoolers. We can also send you Egmont’s free Readers’ Guide to the Jaguar Stones books. Just email

I am giving away a copy of The River of No Return

Rules for the Giveaway
1. It will run from October 5 to 11:59 P.M. on October 8. 

2. You must be at least 13. 

3. Please pay it forward. 

Pamela and Jon posted this on their blog

"To celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, we're giving away a class set of The Jaguar Stones, Book One: Middleworld! The Jaguar Stones is a middle-grade adventure series, set in present-day Central America. It's one of very few children's books to feature modern Maya main characters (as well as a boy from Boston and his archaeologist parents). Written by a husband-and-wife team to appeal to both boys and girls, the Jaguar Stones books are jam-packed with enough humor, plot twists and cliffhangers to keep even the most reluctant readers turning the page. They also contain a wealth of information about the Maya, ancient and modern, all fact-checked by a leading archaeologist. The winner, chosen on October 15th, will receive up to 36 copies of the school-and-library-bound hardback edition." 

Click here to enter. 

Borrow The Jaguar Stones trilogy from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops.


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