by Linda Buckley-Archer
(previously published as Gideon the Cutpurse, which I think is a better title)
This book follows Peter and Kate children of the 21st century who are accidentally sent back to July 1763. Before they are able to get their wits about them, the horrible Tar Man takes off with the anti-gravity machine and their only way home. Peter and Kate meet up with Gideon Seymour and make their way across the English country side in attempt to get home.
I liked this book. A lot. Gideon may be my new favorite character. He is clever, funny, and most importantly a moral man. He really seems to want to do what's right, even though it seems like life is against him at times. I read a review on Amazon that thought Gideon was really flat, so maybe I read more into him than was there, but I thought he was a well developed, likable character.
As to the two main characters, I liked Kate a lot. She was a fairly fleshed out character and was a strong leader throughout. Her little temper tantrums got a little old, and it bothered me that she had so little confidence in Peter. But, as the story progressed, she did seem to grow up, and I liked her overall. Peter wasn't as well developed. He had a pretty big chip on his shoulder (why don't my parents love me?) and he didn't seem to develop as much. That being said, based on the ending, I think there is a good chance that Peter will grow a lot in the second book.
The evil Tar Man was also really interesting. The author gave him quite the developed back story. I look forward to learning more about him. I suspect there is a lot more than meets the eye.
It appears that the author did a lot of research into the lifestyles of people in 1763 England. She included it in a way that was funny and entertaining as opposed to "educational" feeling. For example the word "bottom" was used for courage in those days. Throughout the story phrases like "I want you all to show some bottom on this adventure" popped up. It might be the 10 year old boy in me, but I thought it was hilarious. I do wish the King's Evil (or Scrofula) had been explained a little better. I finally looked it up online; it usually refers to a form of TB that people in the middle ages thought could be cured by a royal touch.
This is the first book in a trilogy. The ending makes it clear that a second book will be written (it's out now, called The Time Thief), so it might not be satisfying to all readers. It wasn't a true cliffhanger, but it definitely made me want to get my hands on the sequel. I look forward to more adventures from Kate, Peter, and Gideon.
PS. My husband liked the book based on one line on page 11, "Bossy pants, bossy pants, Katie is a bossy pants." :)