It was a young adult fantasy read that came out around the same time as Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I was told by the bookstore owner at the time that it was recommended for people who liked the Harry Potter series and needed a filler. I don't remember much about the plot of this, BUT it had a male protagonist, and a female secondary character... she had an uncommon name. His name was common, and I want to say it's Arthur Pendragon, but I'm pretty sure it isn't. I know this isn't in The Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix.
What I remember of the plot: There was a lot of tribal related imagery and lore. At the end the young girl turned into a panther, and the boy I'm pretty sure turned into an animal as well, but my memory can't seem to decide if he was a black panther or a bird of prey. I'm pretty sure the female character had dark skin and the male character had light skin, and that he fell for her. They were around 12-14 if I remember correctly. I also remember there was a lot of jungle themes, and feel like the amazon was the jungle of choice. I also just remembered that the boy was on a vacation, or had just moved to a village near the jungle, from a heavily civilized place.