Review Blog

Jul 26 2019

The time travel diaries by Caroline Lawrence

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Time Travel Diaries book 1. Piccadilly Press, 2019, ISBN: 9781848128002.
(Age: 10+) Recommended. Themes: Time travel, Boys, Roman Britain. 'There are three rules of time travel, a naked entry and exit, only drink don't eat and keep interactions to a minimum!' Billionaire inventor Solomon Daisy needs a willing subject to travel back to Roman Britain and find the blue-eyed girl with the ivory knife. Only pre-adolescent children without piercings or fillings can enter the portal and twelve-year old Alex Papas fits the criteria. He loves Latin Club and can speak the language too, it's like Greek which he speaks with his grandma who cares for him, as well.
Alex weighs up the consequences and considers the benefits of the million pounds reward, four million extra, if he finds the blue-eyed girl. (Daisy's fascination is borderline obsessive.) Alex uses his wits, prior knowledge of Londinium to navigate out of the dark Temple of Mithra into the streets. Chased by a mad woman, traversing the Thames in a coracle, stealing a knife, sleeping beside a warm kiln, losing Dinu, the first day and night is problematic for Alex. At the marketplace, he uses the tune of 'Greensleeves' and his schoolboy Latin to inform the crowd of his goal.
Fortuitously, Lollia the knife-carrying girl finds Alex. She is pretty but rather spoilt and treats her slave girl, Plecta, badly. There's a budding romance that develops when Dinu reappears, as he falls for Plecta. Do the boys return unscathed to modern day London? How does Alex ensure the safety of the girls as well?
Carolyn Lawrence's rich background knowledge of Roman life, the nitty-gritty, sights, smells and sounds, make this a thrilling novel. She includes 'Ten Things You Didn't Know About Roman London' to ensure the readers understand the differences between the realities and representations glamorised in Hollywood movies. The time travel diaries is a fast-paced junior novel perfect for sharing with classes studying Ancient Roman history.
Rhyllis Bignell

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