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- Published on Amazon.com
Thirteen-year-old Jonah longs for a normal life again. Ever since he found out that he's part of a group of kidnapped babies snatched out of time, life has taken an adventurous turn. But helping return the kids to when and where they belong, and restoring history along the way, is dangerous work. Especially when the devious Second interferes while attempting to change history. And when Second requires their help, Jonah and his sister, Katherine, don't have much choice but to comply, if they want to see J.B. and their friends again, who are stranded in the year 1600. Jonah and Katherine quickly find themselves in 1611, stuck on a sailing vessel off the icy coast of Canada, captained by the explorer Henry Hudson. And then it gets complicated.
Captain Henry Hudson is searching for a passage to the Orient, but the crew is near starvation and talking mutiny. Henry's son, John, is one of the missing kids of time. In their other restoration adventures, Jonah, Katherine and the missing kid have tracers, the ghostly outline of what's supposed to happen, to help steer them in the right direction. Unfortunately, the siblings don't have John Hudson with them this time; he just happens to have gone missing again. So Jonah slips on a disguise and pretends to be the cabin boy, John. And then it gets even more complicated.
Their Elucidator, a time traveler's communication and other apps tool, seems to be malfunctioning. Jonah and Katherine have no contact with J.B. or Second, no clue as to what to do, no idea if their actions are helping or hurting time. A mutiny breaks out on board, and the captain and a handful of sailors, including Jonah pretending to be John, are forced into a rowboat and left in the icy ocean to perish. Jonah and Katherine struggle to figure out what choices to make. Unfortunately, a wrong choice could set time unraveling, destroying everything and everyone.
Once again, Jonah and Katherine set off on another quest in time, but it's a different year and a new heart-pounding adventure that await them. Jonah has a soft side in which he really cares about others, yet he is also brave and willing to do whatever it takes to make things right. He has a bit of a mystery about him, and I can't wait to find out which missing kid in time he really is, even though he himself is in no hurry to learn his identity. Katherine is spunky and bold, with lots of spirit. She is more than willing to help out Jonah, even though she isn't part of the missing kids, associated only through her family adopting Jonah.
Margaret Peterson Haddix handles the paradoxes of time with cunning and creativity. And her talents really shine in bringing the past alive. She writes about the harsh conditions and desperate struggles of her characters to survive. She really does find true-life missing children of history to write about; no one knows what actually happened to John Hudson. She follows her story with an Author's Note to explain more of the history, of what's true and what's fiction in her tale, and different theories as to what may have happened to the boatload of castaways. This part of the book sings with her love of history and shares her personality with the readers.
My attention and curiosity are hooked. Where and when will Jonah and Katherine end up next? Book Five can't get here fast enough!
--- Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman