The Door to Time (Book 1 of the Ulysses Moore series), by Pierdomenico Baccalario

The Door to Time (Book 1 of the Ulysses Moore series), by Pierdomenico Baccalario (Scholastic, 2006) is essentially a prequel to a series of brave children having time travel adventures.  There is no time travel until five pages before the book ends, when we get a teaser glimpse of ancient Egypt, where book 2 takes place.  So it's a bit of a moot point to call it a time travel book, and I feel a tad cheated because what with the title I thought we'd actually get to the time travelling....although no promises were made, of course, about going through the door....

In any event, this series of books was translated from the Italian to the American, and, in what is quite possibly a direct result of this, its portrayal of three English children in Cornwall is not exactly convincing (they do not seem English).  However, I found them unconvincing in general.  For much of the book they were being Introduced in a rather labored way as part of the whole setting up the series thing--here is the girl focused on material things, here is her twin, the sensitive boy, here is their new friend, the one year older more practical boy who clearly is going to end up with the girl--and neither the dialogue, actions, or narration did much to make me believe in them.  

In any event, these three young persons are in a huge old house in Cornwall (unconvincingly acquired by the parents of two of them, and once owned by Ulysses Moore, the original time traveler who gives his name to the series) and they go swimming without complaining about how cold the water is/getting dashed on rocks and other things that would make me believe they were swimming in Cornwall.   They also find clues of an intricately puzzley sort combined with exploring dark passageways necessitating chasm leaping etc.  and ultimately reach the magical time travel part, without me having any idea just why it had to be so complicated.  Possibly because there is a Bad Character lurking off to the side who wants the secret to the time travel for herself.  Possibly because they are being Tested.  Possibly because it is Fate.  I dunno.  I just don't see the point of the fireflies (still living) encased in the mud balls.  This could be my problem, not the book's.

However.   I have requested the second book from the library....so next week I will travel with these three children into Ancient Egypt, and I shall see if the actual time travelling works better for me than the set-up did. 

And I shall not be adding this first volume to my list of time travel books, because it really isn't.

Maybe back in its day, when young fans of the Spiderwick Chronicles were clamoring for more, this series (clues! black and white drawings of mysterious stuff! lots of books in the series!) was welcomed....I don't think there's much reason to offer it to the kid of today.  But I really am curious to know if it works better in the original Italian.....

It probably would have worked better for me personally if I'd read it closer to its original publication date--so many, more subtle, interesting, better written (or possibly better translated) books have come along since then....

1 comment:

  1. I was just thinking that that cover looked very Harry Potter to me when you mentioned it first came out in 2006.


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