CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 12. . . . February 14, 2003
First thing next morning, the Binkertons cornered Demeas and demanded his help to get to Olympia. It turned out he was traveling there himself, on his uncle's boat.
He invited Josh along - but not the girls.
"Not allowed to vote! Not allowed at parties! And not allowed at the Olympic Games, either?'
That did it! Now Emma was determined to go to the Olympic Games, even if she had to walk every step of the way.
This fourth entry in the "Good Times Travel Agency" series is another winner. Bailey and Slavin have created one of those rich partnerships we sometimes are privileged to find in children's literature. This series is as good as the "Magic School Bus." Let's hope it's as internationally successful!
After close shaves in the Middle Ages and Ancient Egypt (both reviewed in CM: 7(13), March 29, 2001), and With the Vikings ( CM: 8(15), March 29, 2002), the Binkerton twins, Josh and Emma, and their sister, Libby, this time deliberately ask to go on a time travel adventure. Josh is eager to attend the Olympic Games - but he's hoping to go to the next Olympics! Of course, they instead end up in ancient Greece.
Again we get lots of information, lots of laughs, and revel both in the text and the cartoon style illustrations. The Binkertons' story is accompanied by fact boxes at the bottoms of the pages. One of the funniest parts occurs when Josh sits on Emma's shoulders and they share a chiton (a dress-like robe) so that Emma can visit the Games. As noted above, females were not allowed! We find that the athletes competed in the nude, and that for a civilized society, the ancient Games were very rowdy. Direct democracy is described - voting was open to all Athenians, as long as they weren't women, slaves, or born to non-Athenian parents. We learn bits about ancient Greek philosophers, theatre, economics, warfare, home life, and the Spartans, amongst other things.
Eventually, the Binkertons make it back home, just in the knick of time to avoid death-by-ramming while stowaways in a Greek warship. And they vow to watch the Olympics only on television from now on and never again to trust Julian Pettigrew, proprietor of the Good Times Travel Agency. Let's hope they change their minds.
Janet Delgatty is Manager of Programming and Youth Services with Vancouver Island Regional Library, based in Nanaimo, BC.
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