Debut novelist Potter inaugurates a series with a new twist on time travel.
Who needs H.G. Wells’ big, clunky time machine when an Apple iPhone app will do the trick? Unfortunately, it’s a gigantic mistake that 12-year-old Mel and his classmates Brandon and Bev end up in a stable in 1776 with Gen. George Washington lying stone-cold dead in one of the stalls. The kids are the Left Behinds, students at the snooty Fredericksville School who have nowhere to go during winter break since their parents are rich, successful and too busy to be at home for them. An iTime app has brought them to the farm, but this cannot be: Washington has to cross the Delaware soon, the American Revolution must go on, and who is that Hessian guy with a German Luger (not patented for another 100-plus years)? Even worse, the phone is down to 5 percent power. But Benjamin Franklin comes to the rescue with electricity, and the trio must figure out what to do about George Washington and how to return to the 21st century. Mel’s first-person narrative is engaging, the plot is fast-paced, and plenty of history is woven into the tale.
Even though there’s an awful lot of brand-dropping (skeptics may wonder if Apple paid for product placement), it still goes down easier than the similarly themed Rush Revere books. (Fantasy. 9-12)