Thursday, August 27, 2009

Book Review: The Time Travelers, by Linda Buckley-Archer

Once they were back on the road, Parson Ledbury announced, "I know a tolerable inn some three or four miles hence. The innkeeper's wife is ugly as sin, but she cooks like an angel. I dined handsomely off a plate of tripe the last time I was there."

"What's tripe?" whispered Peter to Kate.

"Believe me, if you're still feeling sick, you don't want to know," she replied.

Londoner Peter Schock's much anticipated 12th birthday adventure is once again postponed by his father, so he's sent off with Margrit, the family's latest au pair, to visit her friends, the Dyers, at their family farm in Derbyshire. Peter's initial cranky observation is, "It's in the middle of nowhere." But things get interesting when he accompanies red-headed Kate Dyer, also 12, her dog Molly, and her father, Professor Dyer, to the professor's research office. What was supposed to be a quick trip before lunch to adjust settings on his colleague's antigravity machine goes terribly wrong. Something spooks Molly, who dashes out of the office, with Peter and Kate in hot pursuit. Seconds later, Molly and Professor Dyer are still there, but Peter and Kate have vanished!

As Kate's parents, Peter's parents, NASA (yes that NASA) and the police frantically investigate the kids' disappearance, Kate and Peter find themselves and the antigravity machine still in Derbyshire...but out in a field, and nearly 300 years in the past: 1763. Worse, nearly as soon as they arrive, the machine - their only ticket home - is stolen by the mysterious Tar Man. Will their parents ever figure out what happened? And will they ever get home? Or are they forever stranded in 1763?

For Teachers and Librarians:
This book is a win-win: lots of teaching material for you, and lots of action, mystery, and fun for your students. The Time Travelers is an exciting mix of science fiction, adventure, fantasy, and history. It is a wonderful introduction to the culture of 1700's England: manner of dress, modes of travel, crime and punishment and the justice system, types of entertainment, modes of communication, and even manner of speech. (Your students will get a good giggle over the many references to "showing your bottom," a phrase which means something distinctly different today than it did in 1763!) Science comes into play as well, with discussions of medical care (blood letting was commonplace in the 18th century), dark matter, and static electricity. You can delve intelligently into science fiction and theories on time travel and it's possible advantages and consequences, or hold a debate on scientific progress - how much is too much, etc. Historical figures and their contributions to society are hinted at, too (the kids meet Charles Darwin's grandfather, and the King and Queen of England). There are many more ways to incorporate this book into your classroom studies. How will you use it with your students?

For Parents, Grandparents and Caregivers:
The Time Travelers is a wonderful book, whether you enjoy it while reading it aloud to your kids, or whether they read it on their own, or whether you keep it to yourself to read first, then share it with your kiddos. Besides being full of action and mystery, and having the ever-alluring element of time travel, this book deftly weaves in themes of loyalty, love, trust, family, betrayal, forgiveness, and friendship. It is fast-paced, funny, exciting, touching, and informational in a not-at-all-obvious kind of way, all at the same time, and appeals easily to both boys and girls. And if your kids love this one, there are two more in the trilogy that continue the adventure.

For the Kids:
The Time Travelers is most awesome, and a book you won't want to put down. Twelve-year-olds Peter Schock and Kate Dyer meet in an accident of fate, and then through another accident of science (or is it science fiction?) find themselves hurled back in time via antigravity machine, and plopped in England, out in the middle of 1763! The frighteningly mysterious Tar Man finds them first, and steals the machine that traveled with them. But that machine is their only way back. Then they meet the curiously mysterious Gideon Seymour, who vows to help them get their antigravity machine back, and get back home. Somehow.

For Everyone Else:
The Time Travelers will appeal to adults as well as kids. It's funny! It's intriguing! You'll learn a thing or two (a whole different use of the word "bottom," for one), and come away wanting more! Good thing there are two more books in this trilogy, to keep the fun coming.

Wrapping Up:
The Time Travelers is a book you will have trouble putting down. Weaving together fantasy, history, science fiction and adventure is no easy task, but Linda Buckley-Archer has done a masterful job. Buy it or borrow it - but most definitely read it. You'll be glad you did.

Title: The Time Travelers
Author: Linda Buckley-Archer
Cover Design: Lizzy Bromley
Cover Illustration: copyright 2007 by James Jean
Pages: 416
Reading Level: Ages 9-13
Publisher and Date: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Edition: 1st Aladdin Paperbacks Edition
Language: English
Published In: United States
Price: $7.99
ISBN-10: 1416915265
ISBN-13: 978-1416915263


  1. I'd never heard of this one--thanks for the review--I'll add it to my list!


So, what's on your mind?