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In this time-travel adventure novel, twin brothers take a trip into the past and learn profound lessons about loyalty, war and family.

Teenage twins Jake and Tom aren’t looking forward to their summer vacation. The family recently moved to the country, where Jake and Tom’s parents banned the teens’ once-ubiquitous electronics from the house. Without video games to occupy them, the twins take to wandering the countryside, where they run across a mysterious cave—and a stranger who silently beckons them inside. Suddenly Jake and Tom find themselves nearly 100 years in the past, on a Greek waterfront during World War I, wearing sailors’ uniforms neither of them has seen before, and helping to provision one of the first combat submarines. Jake’s memories of history lessons provide some context: They’re taking part in the famous Gallipoli campaign and are soon fighting to maintain the sub’s oxygen supply and dodge mines as they scuttle Turkish battleships. It turns out to be the same battle in which their great-great-grandfather fought. Based on the authors’ recollections of their grandfather’s war stories, this novel neatly recalls decades-old popular children’s adventure books. Its you-are-there war story evokes Edward Stratemeyer’s 1898 classic Under Dewey at Manila, while its problem-solving brothers are reminiscent of the Hardy Boys series. The book has a familiar kid-lit premise that readers will likely find fantastic but not unbelievable. Jake and Tom leap into action to protect their new friends in the submarine’s crew, and they learn life lessons, but the novel never takes on a preachy tone. The scenes in the cave drag a bit, but never enough to stop the narrative flow. Kids and adults will likely be able to disappear into this book for a few hours and feel as though they’ve been on an adventure themselves.

A fast-paced kids’ adventure novel with a solid message.

Pub Date: March 25th, 2013
Page count: 162pp
Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher
Program: Kirkus Indie
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ChildrenTHE DEVIL'S ARITHMETIC by Jane Yolen
by Jane Yolen