This adventure takes the young siblings to 1519, when Hernán Cortés arrives on the shores of what is now Mexico, and one castaway from 2049 attempts to prevent the fall of the Aztec Empire. These circumstances allow Gartner to vividly recreate ancient Aztec society while more deeply exploring the protagonists’ growth. Rich historic detail breathes fresh life into this new adventure, As Gartner goes beyond name checking gods and historical figures to highlight resplendent Aztec clothing and a currency system that values items like cacao. Meanwhile, Sarah and John must come to grips with what it means to control only what’s actually within their grasp–with a duty to preserve the past while still trying to prevent their story line from disappearing.
With apparent ease, Gartner weaves the story through time, space, and back again. The exposition on the science of time travel tangled with surprise revelations on occasion feels a bit heavy but manages not to impede the adventure’s fast-paced energy. Although such a burden of responsibility would be unrealistic for actual 10- or 12-year-olds, Gartner balances the difficult decisions the protagonists face with humor—even appealing to video game aficionados by using rogue-like game strategies in battle.
Takeaway: Middle-grade readers with a love of high-stakes fantasy will be pleased with this time-crossed historical adventure.
Great for fans of: P.B. Kerr’s Children of the Lamp series, Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Tree House series.
Design and typography: a
Marketing copy: A