This story grew on me with each passing chapter. Saul is a likable, flawed kid who ultimately wants to do the right thing–send Agatha back to her life in 1813. Agatha is gutsy and kind and an inspiration to Saul and his scaredy-cat friends.
Saul is on his way to the corner shop on a seemingly ordinary day, when a girl appears suddenly in the middle of the road. She does not understand traffic or the things she sees in shops, and she’s wearing a long dress with ruffled sleeves. Her name is Agatha Black.
Agatha Black is from 1813, and Saul needs to find a way to get her back to her time. With help from his buddies Will and Robbie, he tries to figure out how to make time travel happen.
This face-paced, time-traveling adventure from Janis Mackay (author of the Magnus Fin books) is full of funny misunderstandings and gripping action.
Hand this book to the kid who:
* likes reading about time travel–you might pair this with Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me
* enjoys historical fiction–this tale is history brought forward in time to present-day
* appreciates a strong female lead. Although this story is from Saul’s point of view, we get a good take on Agatha, who does things that Saul wouldn’t dream of doing, like spending the night alone in the abandoned lot that houses Saul’s and his friends’ clubhouse–the site that used to belong to Agatha’s grandfather back in the day.
Use this to teach:
* Essay writing–Saul enters an essay-writing contest about life in his hometown back in the “olden days.” He gets his material first-hand from Agatha, of course, but the final interpretation is all his. It might be fun to have students interview someone from an older generation–a grandparent or another senior citizen–and then compose an essay that compares and contrasts life now with life in the past.
* Anti-Bullying--There’s an obvious bully in this story–a boy who torments Saul and every other kid who dare cross into his territory. But Saul and his friends are bystanders who completely shut out another classmate–a girl who, as it turns out, has a future family tie to Agatha. Not only does Saul gain the courage to stand up to the bully who has threatened him since always, but he also learns to reach out to a loner girl in his class–someone who has always existed on the fringes, of society, both socially and economically.
The Nitty Gritty~
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Publisher: Floris Books (UK)
Publication Date: July 2013
Number of Pages: 240
Interest Level: Middle Grade (ages 9-12)