Twins travel back to Coney Island in 1928 in this chapter book and series opener.
Nine-year-old twins Emma and Simon are excited about their sleepover at their grandmother’s New York City apartment. They request her help with a school project about their family history. She tells them the story of how her parents met on a trolley returning from Coney Island, when Jessie threw peanut shells on Jack’s lap to get him to notice her. To illuminate the tale, she shows the twins a snow globe depicting the Cyclone roller coaster on Coney Island. Watching the snow swirl, Emma and Simon are transported back to June 1928, shortly after the opening of the Cyclone. They immediately see three young women who appear to be Jessie and her two sisters. The twins follow them, quickly determining that they are indeed the children’s great-grandmother and great-great aunts. Curious to witness the meeting of Jack and Jessie on the trolley, Simon and Emma quickly realize that their intervention is essential to guarantee the encounter. Once they ensure their great-grandparents’ meeting takes place as their grandmother described, the two return to her apartment and their next adventure is suggested. Although the concept is strongly reminiscent of Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Tree House series, the use of a snow globe as the magical feature is singular and the plot is far simpler in this tale, aimed at readers ages 6 to 9. Educator and attorney Stoller (co-author: The Parent-Child Book Club, 2009) does not use the time-travel aspect to impart historical information. The characters and setting are the heart of the enjoyable story. Metler-Smith’s (Swensons, Penick, and the TCR, 2016) black-and-white images are attractive, although the lack of color is puzzling. (Neither the narrative nor illustrations address diversity.) The book includes discussion questions, a recipe for apple crisp (integral to the story), and a craft project, all of which enhance the tale. There is also a photograph of the real-life Jessie and Jack, on whom the book is based.
A pleasant, if somewhat derivative, time-travel adventure for early readers.