Author: Lewis Buzbee
Publication: Feiwel & Friends (May 22, 2012)
Description: Best friends Lee Jones and Joan Lee have a lot more in common besides their names. On the eve of their class trip, they each learn their parents are getting divorced. Ugh. The class trip is a dud, so Lee and Joan steal away to talk. What follows is an afternoon nap in a lighthouse, walking up to find the Golden Gate Bridge gone--gone!--and meeting a young man named Sam Clemens, who is on the run from a mysterious stranger.
Lee and Joan wonder: Where are they? What year is it? Why don't their cell phones work? How will they get back? Do they even want to? Will life ever be the same?
My Thoughts: This was an entertaining time travel story. Lee Jones and Joan Lee are best friends but the end of eighth grade is a time of lots of changes for both of them. Changes that they are both afraid might destroy their friendship. Joan will be going off to a different high school in the fall and both sets of parents tell the kids that they are divorcing. Their different personalities have them reacting differently. Lee is more laid back; Joan is more uptight.
When the class field trip is changed from an amusement park to a historical park, Joan and Lee ditch the crowds and go off to explore on their own. They wind up in a lighthouse where they talk and then both fall asleep in the wonderful heat of the room. When they wake up, things have changed. Their San Francisco is gone and the cannons that are filled with cement in their time are blasting away. Things get even more complicated when a man who introduces himself as Sam Clemens bursts into the lighthouse.
Thus begins a wild adventure as the two kids, along with Sam Clemens, learn about travelling in time, explore San Francisco in 1864, and try to find a way to get back to their own time. They each have to face their fears for the future before they can get back to their own times. Lee likes living in the past. He doesn't want to go back to 2012. He would rather go back to the time when he is eight and his family was still happy and try to find a way to change the future. Joan doesn't like 1864. She is Chinese and the Chinese were treated very badly in San Francisco then. But she doesn't want to return to 2012 either. She would prefer to travel to 2022 when she would be grown and all the chaos of 2012 would be over. Sam, who is in his time, has some doubts about his future too. He has traveled to the future and seen himself as the famous writer Mark Twain. But he doesn't feel confident that he could ever become that writer.
I liked most of this story. I did get a little tired of THE LOOK which the author had characters frequently exchange with each other. While conversations were conducted non-verbally while the author explained what the looks were conveying. I also thought it took quite a while for two kids who had both read and studied Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn to realized that the young Sam Clemens they met was the author they had studied. But, those quibbles aside, the story had lots of adventure. It was a good story about friendship between a boy and a girl. It also gave an interesting glimpse into San Francisco in 1864. I think many middle graders will enjoy this story.
Joan turned to Lee now, who was slowly peeling himself away from the cliff. They exchanged possibly the most complex LOOK they'd ever exchanged. What to call it? With this one LOOK, they asked each other countless questions: Do you trust Sam? Do you think this is the right decision? Are we still in this together? Can this really be happening? And the answer to all these questions was the same: yes. Joan and Lee didn't have to say anything, didn't have to nod, or even raise an eyebrow. They were agreed; they would trust Sam. For now.I got this ARC from Macmillan Children's Group in exchange for an honest review. You can buy your copy here.