Two free-range 25th-century children get into and out of pickles while tagging along with their research-scientist parents to various past eras.
In this series opener, a prank involving Hannibal’s elephants and a mouse lands the Faradays in hot water with their employer, the Cosmos Institute. They are consequently sent for punishment to 1648 Prague to educate Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III about fashions in footwear. Instantly bored for understandable reasons, teenage sibs Dawkins and Hypatia fall in with Jan Richthausen, an alchemist who actually can turn mercury into gold—using found technology more advanced than the Faradays’ own. Somebody is meddling dangerously. In sharp contrast to most authors who try their hand at time-travel tales, Seven has plainly thought out consistent and (reasonably) plausible ways for his characters to interact with the past without causing paradoxes or catastrophic changes to the future. Though everyone in every era speaks the same colloquial English and the source of the futuristic devices and substances is never revealed in this setup episode, the author does propel Dawk, Hype and his other lively characters through a rousing multicentury chase that loops back around to close with tantalizing hints of adventures to come.
A flying start for a series that puts in a strong bid for Magic Treehouse grads. (Science fiction. 10-12)