Breezy, good-natured fun and a fair amount of history, too.

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THE LINCOLN PROJECT

From the Flashback Four series , Vol. 1

Gutman kicks off a new time-travel series featuring four 12-year-olds ready for adventure.

Wheelchair-bound billionaire genius Chris Zandergoth has found a way to warp space and time to make time travel possible, and with her smartboard—which she smugly calls “the smartest smartboard in the world”—she plans to send the foursome back in time to gather photographs for her collection. She starts by sending David, the one African-American in the group, to 1962 to witness Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point basketball game for the Philadelphia Warriors. When he returns with a souvenir program, he has proven that the Board works, but Miss Z. worries that taking artifacts from the past risks altering the course of history, a concern reminiscent of Ray Bradbury’s “A Sound of Thunder” and many other tales in the genre. Next, they go to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to witness—and photograph—Lincoln giving the Gettysburg Address. Of course, adventure ensues. The third-person narrative works to keep track of the Flashback Four, the narrator frequently addressing readers directly to fill in historical details. When the Four come across John Wilkes Booth, an interesting historical moral dilemma is raised: is it right to kill a person to prevent a future assassination?

Breezy, good-natured fun and a fair amount of history, too. (author’s note, recommended reading, websites, recommended sites, museums, and living history) (Science fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-237441-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the...

TUCK EVERLASTING

At a time when death has become an acceptable, even voguish subject in children's fiction, Natalie Babbitt comes through with a stylistic gem about living forever. 

Protected Winnie, the ten-year-old heroine, is not immortal, but when she comes upon young Jesse Tuck drinking from a secret spring in her parents' woods, she finds herself involved with a family who, having innocently drunk the same water some 87 years earlier, haven't aged a moment since. Though the mood is delicate, there is no lack of action, with the Tucks (previously suspected of witchcraft) now pursued for kidnapping Winnie; Mae Tuck, the middle aged mother, striking and killing a stranger who is onto their secret and would sell the water; and Winnie taking Mae's place in prison so that the Tucks can get away before she is hanged from the neck until....? Though Babbitt makes the family a sad one, most of their reasons for discontent are circumstantial and there isn't a great deal of wisdom to be gleaned from their fate or Winnie's decision not to share it. 

However the compelling fitness of theme and event and the apt but unexpected imagery (the opening sentences compare the first week in August when this takes place to "the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning") help to justify the extravagant early assertion that had the secret about to be revealed been known at the time of the action, the very earth "would have trembled on its axis like a beetle on a pin." (Fantasy. 9-11)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1975

ISBN: 0312369816

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1975

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A lighthearted mystery starring seriously smart kids.

THE AMBROSE DECEPTION

A mysterious scholarship contest launches this middle-grade mystery.

The action begins when three Chicago middle schoolers—Bondi Johnson, a black boy; Wilf Samson, a white boy; and Melissa Burris, a white girl—are selected to compete in the Kaplin/Baron scholarship contest. No one at the three students’ schools has heard of this scholarship, and even stranger, none of these students is known for exemplary academics. In fact, they are better known for scheming, daydreaming, and schmoozing. The scholarship rules appear straightforward: untangle the clues, provide a photo of each, and win $10,000. With these guidelines, a provided cellphone, a personal driver, and a no-strings-attached debit card, each student is ready to tackle the task. Bondi attacks his clues with diligence; Melissa, though suspicious, enjoys the chase; Wilf would rather cross items off his bucket list than solve the riddles. When the hunt for clues draws to an end, Bondi, Melissa, and Wilf discover there is another mystery surrounding this scholarship and the money, leading them to band together to unravel the remaining clues and unearth the truth before the $10,000 slips out of their hands. In the tradition of The Westing Game or Chasing Vermeer, this is a plot-driven brainteaser centered on Chicago landmarks and Chicago history. The twists and turns are well-paced and believable, and transcripts of texts, emails, and letters within the chapters add dimension to the strong cast of secondary characters.

A lighthearted mystery starring seriously smart kids. (Mystery. 8-12)

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4847-8838-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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