It's a Jungle Out There

by Ron Snell
Series: Rani Adventures #1
172 pages, Historical Fiction
Reviewed by Jeanne

A funny read that gives good insight into the lives of Amazonian tribes, but with mild crude humor.


A collection of stories about the early years of Ron "Rani" Snell's life as the son of missionaries and his life in the jungles of the Amazon. His parents translated the Bible into the native language of a group of Indians known as the Machiguengas, and this book chronicles the adventures of the Snell family as they live among the Indians.


Rani and his brother Terry's motto growing up seems to have been "It's easier to get forgiveness than permission," and thus landed in numerous scrapes that usually resulted in near-death experiences. The Machiguenga Indians are kind and helpful and the Snell family ministers wholeheartedly to them, so all in all the lessons in the book are very good. A few characters who factor in briefly are outsiders who use the Indians in order to make profit for themselves, and this behavior is really neither frowned upon or smiled upon - just stated.

Spiritual Content

The Indians believe in spirits and are terrified of many of nature's wonders, and are living in constant fear of death. They believe that the spirits of Indians who have died sometimes return in the shape of animals and can steal other people's lives away. Rani and his family are Christians and try to show the Indians the truth.


There are several stories about the hunts that Rani and Teri went one with the Indians; a story of how Teri was attacked by a vampire bat and Rani stung by ants; a mention of a girl's toe being bitten off by a piranha; and more somber tales of one Indian drowning and another badly injuring his foot while chopping wood. The Indians also enjoy plucking chickens and other fowl while the animals are still alive. Other violent parts include the tale of how Matso, the Snell's pet ocelot, eats a neighbor's pet parrot.

Drug and Alcohol Content

A poisonous root is used to commit suicide.

Sexual Content

An unmarried girl becomes pregnant and tries to abort the baby; one mention of how Rani was conceived in the jungle. Men in the village often have more than one wife. There are also a couple of births described through the course of the book.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

There is some bathroom humor here and there; mentions of having to use an outhouse, or bushes, when the family is taking a long drive through the middle of nowhere. Also the mention of how, because of the amount of mosquitoes in the jungle, people had to learn to scratch themselves in certain places without looking like that's what they were doing. Also a couple mentions of vomiting.


This is a really fun read about life in the Amazon rainforest. Snell writes in a casual way, rather like a diary or as if he were talking aloud, and the style is very lighthearted and sure to bring a laugh. It gives a new perspective on how a tribe of the Amazon lives and how they look at the world.

Fun Score: 4.5
Values Score: 4.5
Written for Age: 11-12

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