Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Time Slip Tuesday

Corriveau, Art. 13 Hangmen.
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.
Strengths: Very strong sense of place, and interesting bits of history. I had no idea that Ted Williams was of Mexican descent and was forbidden to discuss this fact! The time travel element is realistically done, and Tony is a great character. The subplot about him trying to lose weight was a really good one. I enjoyed this and can easily get baseball fans to read it.
Weaknesses: As in this author's first book for younger readers, How I, Nicky Flynn, Finally Get a Life (and a Dog), this was a bit long and convoluted for the target audience. There are a lot of details that bog down the narrative, like the information about Tony's dad. And really, I could buy the time travel, but I could NOT believe that Harvard offered his father a position.

Thake, Richard. Sir Seth Thistlethwaite Seeks the Truth of Betty the Yeti.
15 May 2012; Reviewed for Young Adults Books Central

Sir Seth and Sir Ollie are back for their third adventure. Finding themselves high in the wintery mountains trying to stop a plague of avalanches, the two meet the elf queen Elynor of Ah Ah Kaachu, who tells them that Betty the Yeti is causing them. When they hunt down Betty, she informs them that the fault lies really with the Hole Thing, a giant blue caterpillar, which is located even further up the mountain. Ollie needs to get to New Kaachu to warn people of the next avalanche, and the fastest way there is to go through the Mids, which is the Snow Fleas' secret tunnels, but also where the evil Ghu lives. Seth continues up the mountain with Elynor to fight the Hole Thing, which is blocking a tunnel and causing the avalanches, while Ollie fights the Ghu. Can the two accomplish their missions and save the twon of New Kaachu from being buried by another avalanche, and also clear Betty the Yeti's name?
Strengths: The prose in this is very lyrical and descriptive, and there is also a fair amount of action and adventure in struggling through their environments and fighting the monsters.
Weaknesses: This had a lot of goofy names and situations that make it slightly more suitable for younger middle grade readers.
Buzbee, Lewis. Bridge of Time.
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.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, I didn't know you had a Timeslip Tuesday part of your blog, and you covered three books I hadn't heard of--how fun. As a writer of a middle grade time travel middle grade book, I'm fascinated/disturbed to hear that time travel books are a "hard sell" at your school but are more popular when the plot also includes topics students like. Good information.