CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 2. . . .September 10, 2010.
The Archaeolojesters: Pillars of Time. (Archaeolojesters, Book 2).
Montreal, PQ: Lobster Press, 2010.
188 pp., pbk., $10.95.
Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.
Review by Mary Thomas.
Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.
And that was when we both fell into the wormhole.
I heard a loud bang of static electricity, followed immediately by a sensation of falling. At first it felt like I was sucked into some kind of waterspout, or tornado, or giant vacuum. After that, I just fell, but I didn't fall like I was being pulled by something--I fell slowly and endlessly. The whole thing could have lasted a few seconds, or it may have taken a month. Time had lost all bearing.
Then I felt a subtle change--a new sensation, like something was whizzing past as I fell. Could these be points in time on the unimaginably long timeline of history?
I began to panic.
What if we ended up in different places? What if I fell onto an island full of cannibals? What if Eric landed in Australia? What if we never saw each other, or Rachel, ever again? And that was when I really started to freak out.
So I did the only thing I could think of to make myself feel better--I screamed my face off.
The last time we saw Cody, Eric, and Rachel in The Archaeolojesters, they had just managed to revive the sagging tourist-driven economy of their hometown by faking an ancient Egyptian artifact and convincing the world, temporarily, that Egyptian explorers had crossed the Atlantic and made it north up the Mississippi valley as far as Manitoba. The hoax was so successful that they won a prize of $25,000 and a trip to Egypt, as well as many, many hours of community service for being public nuisances. Now they are on their Egyptian trip guided by the man who had exposed their fake, but no sooner do they arrive in Cairo than they are kidnapped. However, their being kidnapped was not for ransom. Instead, they seem to be the only people who may be able to travel through time to fetch back Anna, the 13-year-old daughter of one of the kidnappers, who has fallen through a time warp.
It's a complicated plot, with a number of surprising and entertaining twists and turns. Readers will never doubt that all will come right in the end, but just how this will be accomplished will keep them guessing right to the final pages.
One of the charms of the previous book is that the story is within the realms of the possible, even if only just within them. This second book is straight fantasy unless you happen to believe in time travel, but we still have a story of a group of resourceful kids sizing up a difficult situation and doing the best they can under the circumstances. Since their best is pretty darned good, so is the story and the book. Young readers will have a ball wondering what can some next, and many will sympathize with Rachel's conclusion that, while she was happy to be back in Sultana in the twenty-first century, if they had had to stay living with the Cree of long ago, it really wouldn't have been so bad. As Cody thinks to himself, they "were super-friendly, they liked to laugh and tell stories, and they took good care of each other. ... [I]n a lot of ways they were just like us, and they had fun even without computers and other modern stuff."
If you're wondering how time travel from present-day Cairo gets you appreciating ancient Cree culture, well, read the book! You'll enjoy it.
Mary Thomas, who lives and works in Winnipeg, MB, is happy to have anyone, real or fictional, appreciating the possibility of having fun without computers and stuff.
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