The Disappearing Bike Shop, by Elvira Woodruff, for Timeslip Tuesday

This week's timeslip book, The Disappearing Bike Shop, by Elvira Woodruff is one from 1992 (Holiday House), which feels vintage, even though I was a grown-up by then....

Two fifth-graders, best friends Freckles (this nickname is perhaps the most vintage thing about it) and Tyler, are amazed to discover a bike shop that's popped up in a dilapidated part of their town, just when Tyler needs his bike mended.  It is a strange place, with decidedly unmodern bicycles, and the proprietor is a strange old man indeed.   Tyler leaves his bike there to be fixed, but with misgivings...and though the two friends are apprehensive about revisiting the place, they must go back to get it...

As the story progresses, it becomes clear that the proprietor is none other than Leonardo de Vinci, who's invented a mechanism for time travel.  Tyler is coincidently doing a report on de Vinci for school, paired with the class bully, and he makes the connection between the proprietor and de Vinci as his research, and the boys visits to the shop, unfold.

As a result of the project, the bully becomes a friend, which is nice for all three boys.  Much is learned about de Vinci, and the kids (with Freckle's hamster) even travel back in time briefly to renaissance Florence (where the hamster is in grave danger!).

It's a pleasant enough story, with realistic kids, and the gradually connection of the dots is not without interest.  The tense relationship with the bully, and Tyler's family backstory, add a smidge of emotional heft, but basically the central premise is the whole of it.  It's a nice introduction to de Vinci, and may leave some kids eager to learn more about him, and I enjoyed reading it, though not so much that I feel it's a must read for time travel fans, possibly because I can't think of anything else to say about it, possibly because someone traveling to our present isn't as inherently interesting as immersive travel back to the past.   But young readers might well enjoy it more, because of expecting less.

The year before this was published, Woodruff's, George Washington's Socks (my review) came out, which was that type of book, and I think it has more appeal for young readers.  Its sequel, George Washington's Spy, came out much more recently, in 2010, and I am reminded that I liked the first well enough to want to get ahold of it.

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