Tuesday, May 22, 2018

A Warp in Time (Horizon #3)

Watson, Jude. A Warp in Time (Horizon #3)
January 30th 2018 by Scholastic Inc.
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

The children in the Killbots whose plane went down have suffered from having friends die, being stuck in all sorts of treacherous situations, and losing their confidence in their survival. Just when they are faint with hunger and about to give up, they hear the voices of other humans. They meet another group of children, the CubTones, who were traveling home from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade when they were ripped out of their plane in a similar fashion. They managed to save more things from the plane, including china, seats, and other things to make their camp more comfortable. They seem to be settling in for the long haul, which makes Molly worried. It gets worse as they talk more to the members of the band and realize that they make a lot of references to daily life that the Killbots don't understand. Molly is worried that the bite she has gotten from the bird will begin to affect her, especially since she meets Calvin, who has a similar bite and is kept in a separate quarters by the CubTones because all manner of things irritate him. He talks nonsensically, but the more that they listen to him, the more it is clear that he is trying to tell everyone more about surviving in this weird wilderness and maybe, someday, being able to return home.

There are a lot of characters in these books, and they remain true to how they are portrayed in previous volumes. Yoshi is still trying to prove himself, because he feels his parents don't want him. Molly is a good leader, but worries that her skills will decrease all too soon. The Japanese sisters are learning a bit more English, and able to communicate with the group through Yoshi. Javi really steps up and tries to help Molly. Hank is a good leader for the CubTones, and Kim, Crash and Pammy are all very separate entities. Calvin, of course, is difficult to read, but Molly does try to figure out the mystery.

There is an online gaming component to these books, so many of the children's adventures have a disctinct video game feel-- they travel around, have to fight monsters, and find gadgets that help them with what they are attempting to do. The first book in the series is by Scott Westerfeld, and the second by Jennifer Nielsen, but Jude Watson is able to maintain the same feeling and writing style that made these books quick reads.

Children who love science fiction series like Voyagers! Or Todd Strickland Mars: Year One will find plenty of action and adventure in the Horizon series, and the mystery will appeal to those who have finished The Thirty-Nine Clues or Infinity Ring series.

DuBois, William P. The Twenty-One Balloons
September 14th 1947 by Viking Books for Young Readers
School library copy

I was waxing nostalgic about books with my elder daughter over the weekend, and this title came up, along with Morley's Parnassus on Wheels and Roberts' I am the Great Horse. Clearly, this child picked up my eclectic reading tastes. Since I'm about to run out of ARCs and summer is quickly approaching, I treated myself to a reread of this book, which is still on my library shelves.

William Waterman Sherman has taught math to students for 40 years in San Francisco, and we catch up with him in 1883 after he has sailed a balloon far away, in order to escape the cares of the world. Unfortunately, his balloon (which was brilliantly equipped with wicker furniture and a silk mattress filled with gas) is attacked by birds, and he crashes onto the island of Krakatoa. There, he is met with Mr. F, who is garbed in a full morning suit, and is shown the wonders of an island with such an enormous diamond mine that it can support 20 families in amazing style. Because of the necessary secrecy surrounding this vast wealth, Sherman is told he can't leave, but as long as he doesn't have to teach the 40 children on the island, he is okay with that. The residents have a restaurant form of government, and each family provides one meal a month, based on the letter of the alphabet assigned to their family, and the corresponding culture they have appropriated for the food as well as the architecture of the home. Sherman isn't wild about the Chinese food provided by the Cs, but looks forward to the Italian food as the month progresses. There are lots of details about how the people get money for the diamonds without ruining the market, and also about the details of mechanical beds that drop the occupants right into the bath! The book moves quickly, however, and soon Krakatoa is due to explode. The residents are prepared, and take off in a balloon powered platform, leaving Sherman to crash land in the ocean. He tells the Explorers Club about his adventures.

There are problematic passages, such as an incident with a Native American tribe having the top of the Explorers Club building land on their reservation, a mention of Negroes, and the general cultural appropriation of the restaurant culture and the vaguely disapproving feel that had.

I got rid of The Cricket in Times Square because of the lengthy, unflattering description of a Chinese man, but I'm a little conflicted about this. The book is completely typical of its time, and not purposefully mean spirited. The idea is such a fun one. Should it stay, or go?

This is why it is good to occasionally revisit older titles. Tonight's reading may include The Children of Green Knowe and The House with a Clock in Its Walls, since it's going to be a movie in the fall.


  1. Anonymous10:56 AM EDT

    I understand the need to be sensitive to other cultures. I wholly agree that taking something that has a sacred aspect and using it in a disrespectful manner is wrong. (I personally am offended when I see shorts made from the flag.) But if someone appreciates an aspect of another culture and wants to share in that, where do you draw the line? Isn't that part of "the melting pot" of American culture? I am NOT trying to cause a heated discussion here, or offend anyone. I just think that sometimes we go overboard trying to be too politically correct.
    I lead a home school book club at my library. The Twenty-One Balloons has been suggested as one of the books for discussion next year. I will be rereading it with a different viewpoint this summer. Thanks for opening my eyes.

    1. I think that we should at least be aware of what there might be in books that could offend people. I still think that Little House on the Prairie is valuable, even though some parts of the series are very problematic. I grew up with the melting pot philosophy of culture, but feel that things are a bit different now. It's hard to know how to react, but good to think about treating others with kindness!

  2. I read The Children of Green Knowe a few years ago for a college class and fell in love with this book. Not much of a plot but the setting is so very wonderful that I wanted to go there! One day I plan to read the rest of the series. I'd love to hear your reaction and wonder if your kids would like it.

  3. The 21 Balloons is one of the first chapter books my son and I bonded over. I think this one should stay because it's more of a kids utopian fantasy than something built off of stereotypes. I'm not saying it's perfect but I think it's interesting enough to hold onto and use for discussion.