For this week's Timeslip Tuesday I offer a new series of time travel adventures, great for the kid who loved Magic Tree House or the Time Warp Trio but who is now ready for a peek at middle school (which is to say, third and fourth graders who want to read about kids older than themselves, with a slightly more realistic fiction feel to the time travel shenanigans).
There are three books thus far in the series (from Simon Spotlight, all 2016):
Going, Going, Gone
Stay a Spell
Wrong Place, (Really) Wrong Time
The premise of the books is that a middle school librarian is the keeper of a book that serves as a time travel portal. If the book is not used, its power wanes, so the librarian recruits kids she trusts to journey back in time, and (as we learn in the second and third books), there's an antagonist who wants to get his hands on the book, and alter history. In the normal course of events, the book only allows for relatively minor positive changes. In book one, Matt, Luis, and Grace travel back to the 50s to save Matt's grandfather from the accident that keeps him from being a pro baseball player. In the second, Jada and her two best friends go to 1977 Hollywood, and keep Jada's aunt from making the spelling mistake that foils her dream of becoming a fashion designer. In the third book, Luis and a new friend, Andrew, plan a journey with Captain Kidd, and then find themselves coping with visitors from the past in Luis' own home (and you really really don't want a Viking as a house guest!).
As the series progresses, the time travel lens widens, and the stakes get higher as the kids learn about the man who wants to get the book. Things move beyond the tension of simple (as it were) time travel, to time travel with an enemy who needs thwarting!
Along the way, the kids deal with a few regular middle school issues of a lighter sort (bad grades in spelling and making friends with a new kid sort, as opposed to weightier issues like dead parents and bullying). This makes the books a good fit for elementary school aged readers--it won't make them anxious about 7th grade. The protagonists are an engaging bunch, and Luis and Jada (who is black) bring diversity to the mix. Something I especially like is that the kids don't fuss about gender when it comes to friendships; it's really nice to see books where boys and girls are simply good friends.
Time travel is relatively easy here--the librarian gives them scarfs that serve as time travel smoother-overs for those difficult linguist and clothing issues. But of course that doesn't help Luis and Andrew when they have to keep a Viking, Charlie Chaplin, and King Tut from wrecking Luis' house!
In short--these are fun, fast books that should please the target audience of 9 or so year olds.
disclaimer: review copies received from the publisher