Today's Timeslip Tuesday book is a wild and wacky ride back to 1668--Another Whole Nother Story, by Dr. Cuthbert Soup (Bloomsbury, Dec. 2010, middle grade, 304 pages). Warning--this is the second book of a series, and this review contains spoilers for book one, a Whole Nother Story.
In that book, Dr. Soup introduced readers to the Cheeseman family, consisting of three "smart, polite, and relatively odor-free children" (two boys and one girl), a psychic, hairless dog named Pinky, and their father, a brilliant inventor who is putting the finishing touches on a time machine. He's building the time machine so that he can go back and save his wife from being murdered by evil corporate thugs who wanted to get their hands on the invention.
Along the way, in that first book, the Cheeseman family encountered an odd group of side-show performers, who turn out to be pirates from the 17th century, who made the mistake of pirating a cursed chalice from a castle in Denmark. The curse sent them forward in time, and inflicted a variety of ills on them. But with the help of Mr. Cheeseman's time machine, they hope to return the grail. Since this group of pirates saved the day in book 1, the Cheesemans are happy to make 1668 the time machine's first stop.
They arrive safely, apart from a bit of crash landing that damages the machine. But they are on the wrong side of the ocean, in New England, and so the pirates set out to find a ship, and the Cheesemans set out to find a town and buy what's needed to fix the machine....and things begin to get Interesting. Another scientist has come back to the past to find Dr. Cheeseman, bringing with him the very bad guy who caused the family so much grief in book 1. Wild adventures with witch hunters and pirates ensue before everyone makes it to Denmark...which isn't, of course, where the Cheesemans had wanted to go.
This is a funny book. The author works really hard to make sure that the reader isn't going to take it seriously (lots of short section of humours authorial interjections, lots of farce and over-the-topness), and he succeeds--I didn't laugh out loud, but I was entertained. It's not meant to be an accurate portrayal of the past, and it isn't (which was extremely tricky for me as a reader, because in my real life, 17th century New England is kind of important, and I know a lot about it). I had to swallow very hard when the Cheesemans met a girl named "The Big Little" in the woods, who happened to be half Mowhawk, half English, and a cracking good shot with a bow, and I swallowed hard again when powdered wigs showed up, and I couldn't swallow at all the French witch hunter named Bon Mot (not that the author meant him to be swallowed). In short, I was very, very glad when everyone sailed away from New England and I could just go along for the ride.
This sort of ridiculousness isn't really my cup of tea, but despite that, I did come to care about the fate of this odd family. I think that it's intended audience (kids looking for a fast, funny read, with lots of ridiculous adventure) will appreciate it lots, and will wait anxiously for the third book...
(disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher)