(C) Ages 8-10, (D) Ages 10-12, Book Reviews, Boys, Chapter Books, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Humor, Middle Grades
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Time Twisters Series by Steve Sheinkin

In the “Time Twisters” series, Steve Sheinkin has fun with a discipline he usually takes seriously, starting with Abraham Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln, Pro Wrestler (Time Twisters #1) by Steve Sheinkin. Roaring Brook, 2018, 147 pages.

Reading level: Middle Grades, ages 8-10

Recommended for: ages 7-11

Wasn’t there a movie a few years ago about Abe Lincoln, Vampire Hunter? This Lincoln tale is slightly more realistic. It all started in Ms. Maybee’s history class, when they begin a new unit on Abraham Lincoln. Abby dutifully opens her history book and begins to read aloud, while her stepbrother Doc groans, “History is bor-ing.” And at first it appears that Doc is right: there’s old Abe in his office in Springfield, Illinois, reading the paper. And. That’s. it. Even the teacher is nonplussed: where’s the greatest president in history?

Turns out, he’s in the storage room. While Abby and Doc are waiting for their mother, he pops out of a big cardboard box and castigates them (especially Doc) for dissing history. “We hear it all. How do you think that makes us feel?” By ‘we’ he means notable figures who lived in the past, and are still listening (uh-oh). Needless to say, Mr. Lincoln will straighten the kids out, and hijinks ensue.

It’s clean goofy fun, by an author who has written textbooks (which he apologizes for) and highly-regarded, much-awarded serious history for middle-graders and teens. Here he’s just having fun, but he knows his stuff and represents the personality of Lincoln down to his actual jokes (and he was a pretty good wrestler, too). A finally chapter “untwists” the history with a capsule version of Mr. Lincoln’s life and times. But it doesn’t end there: Abby and Dob will have later encounters with Abigail Adams and the Pirates of the Caribbean, Neil Armstrong and Nat Love, Space Cowboys, and Amelia Earhart and the Flying Chariot. Third-through-fifth-graders who think history is boring should check them out!

Considerations:

  • Abraham Lincoln is the only title I’ve read all the way through, and there was no objectionable content in it. I can’t vouch for the others, but they seem unlikely to offend.

Overall Rating: 3.75 (out of 5)

  • Worldview/moral value: 3.5
  • Artistic/literary value: 3.75

As mentioned earlier, Sheinkin is best known for his award-winning YA and middle grade nonfiction, such as The Notorious Benedict Arnold, Bomb, Most Dangerous, and Undefeated. For another interesting take on our 16th president, see our review of It’s Up to You, Abe Lincoln.

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