Allison's Book Bag

QUICK TAKE: High Time for Heroes

Posted on: May 6, 2015

Carmen Sandiego meets Quantum Leap in High Time for Heroes, the fifty-first title in the educational Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne. In other words, welcome to a world of mystery, time travel, and adventure.

How is High Time for Heroes like Carmen Sandiego? Well, although Jack and Annie aren’t aspiring detectives on the trail of a criminal and her underlings, they do regularly complete missions for which they’re given clues. These missions also always take them to faraway places. In Carmen Sandiego, the aspiring detective needed an almanac and an atlas to locate their destinations. Our Magic Tree House heroes depend just as much on reference materials, but use instead a dependable travel guide as they travel back in time to Egypt to learn a secret of greatness from Florence Nightingale. I enjoyed discovering Egypt through Jack and Annie’s eyes, as they meet a guide, sail the Nile, and explore pyramids. As in Carmen Sandiego, of course, Jack and Annie also encounter dead ends and dangers. For example, an initial encounter with Florence Nightingale ends up with her excusing herself because she is tired. Among other things, danger lies in the jackals who chase Jack and Annie up a mountain.

How is High Time for Heroes like Quantum Leap? Well, although Jack and Annie always return to their own time after an adventure, they like Sam from Quantum Leap must right a wrong to continue to their next adventure. In Quantum Leap, Sam knows that his mission has been accomplished if he jumps from his current body to a new one. In contrast, Jack and Annie eagerly watch for their gold ring to glow to determine their success level. Only if it does will the two know Florence Nightingale has shared her secret of greatness with them. In Quantum Leap, Sam sometimes has adventures based on real historical events. Similarly, I liked learning more about Florence Nightingale from Jack and Annie’s research into her, as well as their conversations with her. Although Florence  Nightingale has long been one of my female heroines, I didn’t remember that she initially made her decision in Egypt to become a nurse.

The Magic Tree House series has been around since 1992. Its high appeal no doubt lies in the consistency of its setup. Each book opens with the siblings finding a magic tree house filled with books near their home. In the first twenty-eight titles, Osborne casts Morgan le Fay, fairy sister of King Arthur, as the head librarian of Camelot. Starting with the twenty-ninth title, Merlin the Magician is now the one to assign missions. Aside from this little tweak, however, each title follows the same. Jack and Annie always travel in time to a new place where they meet a new historical figure. Moreover, the writing style is perfectly suited for young readers who are of the age to read chapter books and series.

Although I’ve long-heard my students talk about the series, High Time Heroes is the first title I’ve read in it.  Not until a student picked it as his choice independent book in my room did I finally decide to check out the series. High Time Heroes makes a great adventure story for reluctant and avid young reader alike.

My rating? Read it: Borrow from your library or a friend. It’s worth your time.

How would you rate this book?

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