Saturday, September 11, 2010

Kid Konnection: How we love to travel back in time!

Beware Pirates! Canadian Flyer Series Book 1 by Frieda Wishinsky
(Rated: C)
Maple Tree Press
ISBN: 978-1897066805
Published Jan 15, 2007
Paperback,  96 pages, Ages 6-9

My 6-year-old son was so excited when he discovered this Canadian Flyer Adventure series while looking through an Owl magazine. How did we miss this great series? (Book #15 was just published.) We are fans of the Magic Tree House series and I could see that the Canadian Flyer stories follow a similar idea of traveling back in time, but the latter stories are distinctly different. Each book is a small history lesson in the form of an action adventure tale.

Emily and Matt are transported back in time on an antique red sled (what an ingenious idea!) called—you guessed it—the Canadian Flyer, which takes them to a different part of Canada at a historic point in the past. In this first book, the adventure begins almost immediately as Emily and Matt meet for the first time. Emily has just moved into an old house that belonged to her great-aunt Miranda, and Matt lives just next door. They decide to go play up in the spooky tower situated at the top of Emily’s house.

The tower is filled with old things, treasures really, including a red sled that magically flies them back to 1577 and onto a pirate ship! But not just any pirate ship; this is the ship of Captain Martin Frobisher, an explorer and privateer in the service of Queen Elizabeth, who is on his second expedition to look for gold and to find out what happened to the five crewmen from the first expedition. The ship is in the Arctic waters near Nunavut, and Emily and Matt manage to get off the ship with the help of Minik, an Inuit boy who is trying to save his friend who is a prisoner on the ship. Soon the children are on a rescue mission and they must do it without getting caught or killed!

I just loved Wishinsky’s realistic description of the conditions on the ship. The men were rough, dirty and smelled of rotten fish, the food was mouldy, and rats lurked in the dark, below-deck quarters. She brought history to life at a time when Canada was being explored and the Inuit misunderstood. At the end of the book, additional information about the historical people and events is given in the fun format of Emily’s Top Ten Facts, Matt’s Top Ten Facts and the author’s own question and answers. These are fun to read and evoked funny expression from my kids.

Of course, now that we discovered this series we can’t wait to catch up and read all of them! The second book deals with dinosaurs, another favourite topic of my son. He keeps asking when we’re going to get the book, so I better get with it. Thumbs up for this great series that is simultaneously educational and entertaining!

Disclosure: Thanks to Kendal Gerard from Maple Tree House for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

A Handful of Time by Kit Pearson
(Rated: C)
Puffin Canada (Penguin)
ISBN: 978-0140322682
Published March 1, 1988 Reprint Edition
Paperback, 208 pages, Ages 9-12

I read this book when I was a young teen, and I think this must have been the book that sparked my love for time travel stories. When I found this used copy, I bought it for my own daughter’s book collection, waiting for the day when she was old enough to read it. I was delighted when we cleaned up her shelf and found it hidden in the back. The setting of the story takes place in the summer and so the timing was just right to read it to my now 9-year-old girl.

Twelve-year-old Patricia’s parents are getting a divorce and they send her to her cousin’s cottage for the summer as they sort things out. She doesn’t know her cousins, they aren’t thrilled to have her visit, and she doesn’t fit in. Then she discovers an old watch hidden under a floorboard. When she winds it, it takes her back in time to the summer when her own mother was twelve. Imagine going back and seeing what your own mother was like as a kid? Cool, huh?

I could feel my daughter’s excitement as we traveled back in time to a different era, to a time when Patricia could actually see her own mother as a tween. Patricia had her differences with her mother and now she was seeing what she was like as a kid and some of the things she had to contend with. She also discovers she is more like her mother than she thought. Patricia’s flawed character works well in the story and she learns several important things about herself and her family that help her think differently and change her perspective on things. Patricia also loves cooking and this reminded me of when I used to cook even at a young age.

Reading it for the second time after so many years was certainly a different experience than when I read it as a child. My daughter loved it, of course, and I really enjoyed reading it with her, but it had lost some of its magic for me. I was sometimes frustrated with Patricia, the main character, something I don’t remember when I first read it. Perhaps because I would have handled some of her situations differently. But how unfair of me since I am much older! Nevertheless, the story is a good one and, for me, also reminiscent of the eighties and my summer reading days. Such nostalgic memories!

This book will remain in my daughter’s library. It is a classic and reading it with my daughter was a great experience. Just like Patricia, I traveled back in time to when I first read it, and I had the opportunity to share some of that feeling with my daughter. Although she will never go back to when I was a kid, at least I can share with her some of my favourite reads from that precious time in my childhood. This book has now become one of her favourite.

Disclosure: I bought this book at a used book sale. I was not told how to rate or review this product.

Every Saturday, Booking Mama hosts a feature called Kid Konnection—a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, visit Booking Mama.

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  1. My son would have love the pirate book, for sure!

  2. Both of these books look fabulous but I know my sons would LOVE the pirate book! They are always doing pirate and ship things constantly! Thank you for sharing about this book!

  3. Growing up I missed a Handful of Time, but it sounds like a book I would have loved.

  4. Great reviews! I'm not familiar with any of these books, but I'm adding them to my list!

  5. I've seen Kit Pearson's books everywhere, even owned them, but I have yet to read her! Must get around to it one of these days.

    I was thinking of starting that Canadian Flyers Series with my son but that was back when there were about 6 books in the series! I must have been in a daze to let the time go by. 15 already! Yikes!


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