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Digital Disaster: Hyperlinkz Book 1    by Robert Elmer Amazon.com order for
Digital Disaster
by Robert Elmer
Order:  USA  Can
WaterBrook Press, 2004 (2004)

* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Missing dogs are typical fodder in many Intermediate Readers series, and Robert Elmer's Digital Disaster is no exception. So what makes this one different? The missing dog ends up in cyberspace!

Austin and Ashley Webster are trying to photograph their aunt's prize-winning beagle Applet with the digital camera Austin bought at a yard sale, when the camera sucks Applet into the Internet. Before the two middle-schoolers can discover what happened, Ashley gets downloaded too. Austin is left with no choice but to go in after his sister and Applet. Once inside, the kids learn that they are not the only travelers, or 'internauts', on the World Wide Web. Soon after arriving, they meet Mattie Blankenskrean, who is trying to fix websites by erasing all religious references. Now Austin and Ashley have two tasks to recover Applet and wipe out Mattie Blankenskrean!

Aside from being a fast-paced, Christian, sci-fi adventure, Digital Disaster presents entertaining and inconspicuous educational content, as Austin and Ashley travel through a variety of websites dealing with famous shipwrecks. Bits of trivia are learned about each shipwreck they visit. And for those whose interest is piqued, in the section at the end of the book, 'The Hyperlinkz Guide to Safe Surfing', websites for each topic are discussed. Another detail that makes this a fun read is the appearance of familiar Internet figures. Both kids are continually helped and annoyed by Ask Jeeves (though he is never mentioned by name) and Austin takes a ride on a search engine, gets stuck in 'Error 404' land, and lands on a 'Buy It Now' link.

Robert Elmer's Digital Disaster makes an entertaining summer read that might just interest readers in doing some research on their own over the break (I know I want to find out more about these shipwrecks).

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