Tony's family is a bit confused, but very grateful, when Tony's great uncle Angelo leaves him his house in Boston, with the stipulation that the family live there until Tony is an adult, and Tony has the attic bedroom. This is great, because Tony's father is working on his PhD thesis on Paul Revere, so the family is strapped for money. There is some suspicious circumstances surrounding Angelo's death, and when a cranky neighbor, Mr. Hagemann, files charges against Tony's father, Tony wants to find out why the old man is so vengeful. This is made a little easier when Tony finds out that the baseball cap Zio Angelo gave him for his 13th birthday can conjure up Angelo as a 13 year old when set on a shelf that was made out of an ancient pawcorance. Not only does it conjure up Angelo (who met Ted Williams during a critical point in the baseball great's career), but a contemporary of Williams, an Irish boy who lived in the house, a freed slave boy... all as their 13 year old selves. It turns out that the Hagemann's have a very long vendetta against Tony's family, going all the way back to the time of Paul Revere. The Hagemanns want desperately to buy the house because of the rumors of treasure being there. The most recent Hagemann almost succeeds when Tony's house starts to fall to pieces and require more work than the family can afford. The only way they can stay is if Tony can consult the generations of 13 year old boys, figure out the secrets, and find the treasure.
Publication 22 May 2012
From the Publisher: "Best friends Lee Jones and Joan Lee have a lot more in common besides their names. On the eve of their class trip, they each learn their parents are getting divorced. Ugh. The class trip is a dud, so Lee and Joan steal away to talk. What follows is an afternoon nap in a lighthouse, walking up to find the Golden Gate Bridge gone - gone!- and meeting a young man named Sam Clemens, who is on the run from a mysterious stranger. Lee and Joan wonder: Where are they? What year is it? Why don't their cell phones work? How will they get back? Do they even want to? Will life everbe the same?"
Time travel is a hard, hard sell at my school. It's enormously helpful if the concept is combined with a topic that students like, such as baseball, or involves explosions. The beginning of this book was so languid, and the Lee Jones/Joan Lee relationship so manufactured that I stopped reading and looked up information about the author. Sure enough, Mr. Buzbee writes more adult fiction than middle grade, although his Steinbeck's Ghost was well liked by people in California. If time travel, or California history, are big circulators in your library, go for this one. It was very well written, just didn't grab me.