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The Library of Ever–unforgettable library adventures

The Library of Ever

by Zeno Alexander

The Library of EverLenora is a rich, privileged, eleven year old, cared for by a nanny in the absence of her vacationing, neglectful parents. With a nanny absorbed by shopping and tech devices, Lenora is understandably bored, but that changes quickly when she escapes the nanny’s unwatchful eye in the LIBRARY. To her delight, she is hired to work there. What follows is a series of magical librarian adventures. With each one of them, Lenora proves her worth and advances from Fourth Assistant Apprentice Librarian up through the ranks.

The adventures are fun and scary in this amazing library created by Zeno Alexander in The Library of Ever. Lenora is set on tasks by Malachi, the Chief Answerer, and she bravely confronts the Forces of Darkness who want to destroy Light in the world by destroying knowledge. The scary features are appropriate to Middle Grade readers with transporting by tubes, shrinking and unshrinking, dark caverns, holes that suddenly appear, evil men in bowler hats who can chill a room, and robots with spinning swords for arms.  There are lighter moments too. Lenora becomes a cat in a diorama to rescue a lost kitten. Lenora is ever helpful, for as a librarian that is her job. Her good deeds include resettling a colony of penguins and helping a kindly robot find a lost memory. The plot moves quickly from adventure to adventure and is an appropriate length for Middle Grade readers. As an adult reader I enjoyed it too, smiling over antics and anticipating each new adventure along with each promotion for Apprentice Librarian Lenora who has always enjoyed the adventures to be found in books.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Children’s Fiction, Middle Grades

Notes: Ages: 8-11

  Grades: 4-7

Publication:  April 30, 2019—Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group

Memorable Lines:

Malachi burst onto the scene looking rather disheveled, meaning a wisp of hair had escaped from her bun and her badge was ever so slightly askew.

“This isn’t the Complaints Desk,” said Lenora shortly. “The Complaints Desk is down the stairs, across the hall, over the bridge, past the waterfall, then you take the fifth left after the third right and straight on ’til morning.” Lenora had no idea if there was a Complaints Desk. “You’ll also need ice skates.”

Remember, Lenora, you are not alone in this fight, even if it will feel like that sometimes. You have allies, and you can rely on them to help you with the battles you are not yet ready to fight.

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Stowing Away with the Vikings–learn history from a graphic novel

Stowing Away with the Vikings

written by Linda Bailey

illustrated by Bill Slavin

Stowing Away with the VikingsAuthor Linda Bailey takes us back in time to the Age of the Vikings in her graphic novel Stowing Away with the Vikings. The Binkerton children have been avoiding the Good Times Travel Agency ever since their surprise trip to Ancient Egypt, but a hailstorm leads young Libby to shelter near the shop door, owner Julian T. Pettigrew offers a guidebook to the Vikings, and the rest, as they say, is history. Stowing Away with the Vikings is a delightful way to learn things about the Vikings that Hollywood will never tell you. Part fiction (the Binkerton storyline) and part nonfiction (clearly delineated explanations accompanying the storyline), this graphic novel is all fun and fascination. Bill Slavin’s pictures in comic style are perfect for entertaining, moving the story along, and illustrating the facts.

This book will delight children as they immerse themselves in history. Just as children reread comic books until the covers fall off, kids will want to reread this book absorbing the information about a culture that no longer exists but has affected our own. Although the author honestly discusses the violence of the Viking way of life, there is no depiction of murder. The Binkerton storyline contains a lot of humor that children and adults will appreciate. I learned a lot from this graphic novel and had a great time reading it. I recommend it for homes, classrooms, and libraries. 

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kids Can Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Children’s Fiction, Comic & Graphic Novel

Notes: Grade level—3-7

  Age Range—8-12 years

The Time Travel Guides as a series is being republished by a new publisher. Upcoming books to be released are: On the Run in Ancient China and Game on in Ancient Greece

Publication:   October 2, 2018—Kids Can Press

Memorable Lines:

Does it seem a bit smoky in here? Hazy? Dark? Look around. There are no windows—just a hole in the thatched roof to let out the smoke. The only light comes from oil lamps. P.S. I hope you like fishy smells. The oil in those lamps comes from fish or whales.

Viking laws aren’t written down, so somebody has to remember them. That’s why they have the law-speaker, a man who memorizes all the laws and shouts them out loud for everyone to hear.

The word  “berserk” means bearskin. Berserkers are the most feared of all Viking warriors. Before going into battle, they get into a fighting rage. They howl like wolves. They leap like dogs. They grind their teeth and bite the edges of their shields…Have you ever heard the expression “going berserk”? Where do you think it came from?

Hot on the Trail in Ancient Egypt–young time travelers

Hot on the Trail in Ancient Egypt

written by Linda Bailey

illustrations by Bill Slavin

Hot on the Trail in Ancient EgyptHot on the Trail in Ancient Egypt is a juvenile graphic novel that kept this adult interested from beginning to end.  In this book, which is part of The Time Travel Guides, the bored Pinkerton twins chase after their little sister Libby who has entered the rather creepy Good Times Travel Agency. Opening the owner’s personal guide book catapults the three children into Ancient Egypt. They learn that their adventure will not end until they finish reading the book.

The layout of the book is very appealing. The fictional story is told in comic book style at the top of the page. At the bottom of the page is a drawing of an aged book (Julian T. Pettigrew’s Personal Guide to Ancient Egypt) containing nonfiction text that explains and elaborates upon what is happening in the story. For example, when an Egyptian woman invites them into her home, the nonfiction text describes the house, food, and clothing of Ancient Egypt.

I can’t stress enough the current importance of books like this to interest children in history for three reasons. First, most people are familiar with the saying attributed to George Santayana that “those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” There are many horrific events in history most can agree should never be repeated. Second, sadly to say, most children are not exposed to history in their younger years in school. The school day and curriculum in public elementary school is so regimented that the focus is reading, taught in a boring and uninspired way, math, and standardized testing. I am not kidding or exaggerating when I say that as a teacher I had to sneak in science and history and hope the principal didn’t catch me. Third, history is interesting and FUN. in an age when teachers do their best to incorporate games and movement activities called “brain breaks” (to replace the recess that was taken away), we need to restore the intrinsic fun that comes through learning interesting things. In that way we create life long learners.

In addition, a book of this type actively demonstrates reasons for reading—to learn more about something you are interested in and to be carried away by a story. I particularly appreciate that Bailey gave a belated shout out to her high school history teacher: “Great work, Mr. Visch—you made it fun!” She dedicated the book to her daughter who “once did a school project on the Sphinx and has been in love with all things Egyptian ever since.” Teachers and projects do make a difference.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kids Can Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Children’s Nonfiction

Notes: 1. new edition of an older book

  2. Grade Level: 3-7

  3. Age Range: 8-12 years

Publication:   May 1, 2018—Kids Can Press

Memorable Lines:

For drinks, try the national beverage—beer! It’s made from half-cooked bread and river water, and it’s thick, dark and sometimes a bit lumpy. You’re supposed to strain it well before serving, but not everyone does.

Down at the bottom are the farmers and laborers. Most people in ancient Egypt are at the bottom of the society—where there’s plenty of room!

Sightseeing in the middle of a getaway? This was a very bad idea. Emma and Josh tried to lure their little sister out of the pyramid.

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