BLACK POWDER by Staton Rabin


Age Range: 12 - 15
Email this review


This perfectly dreadful time-travel fantasy takes a hip black teen from 2010 L.A. back to 13th-century Oxford in an attempt to convince Roger Bacon, the brilliant Franciscan scholar who discovered gunpowder, to destroy his legacy. When Langston’s best friend Neely is shot in gang violence, he leaps at the opportunity presented by his conveniently brilliant science teacher to bounce his holographic self off some harmonically converged asteroids back to 1278, where he becomes solid and manages to overcome all cultural and linguistic difficulties such a trip should present. Rabin introduces anachronism after anachronism into her tale, most significantly a willful disregard for the limitations of 13th-century communications and transportation, a technique she excuses in her backmatter “to keep the story moving along.” If, however, one key element of a successful time-travel story is the collision of modern and ancient, these compromises seriously undermine the enterprise, sacrificing honest tension for cheap laughs. In concept, promising; in execution, a dismal and intelligence-insulting failure. Kids deserve better, and writers for kids should know this. (historical notes) (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-689-86876-6
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: McElderry
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2005


ChildrenMR. LINCOLN’S BOYS by Staton Rabin
by Staton Rabin
ChildrenTHE CURSE OF THE ROMANOVS by Staton Rabin
by Staton Rabin
ChildrenBETSY AND THE EMPEROR by Staton Rabin
by Staton Rabin