From School Library Journal
Grade 5-8–Peter and Kate, 12, have literally stumbled from the 21st century back to 1763, and even though they are still in England, many things have changed. Their time travel must be connected to the antigravity machine Kate's father has been working on, but since it has been stolen by a vicious criminal called The Tar Man, they really have no choice but to trust Gideon, the stranger whose offer of help seems genuine enough, even if he is known as a cutpurse. Buckley-Archer may very well give J. K. Rowling a run for her money. This wonderfully rich and complex novel, written in lyrical and vivid language, is destined to be a classic. History interweaves with science, social issues in both centuries are thrown in; yet what readers will remember most is a fast-paced plot with a cliff-hanger ending and multidimensional characters who continue to inhabit their thoughts long after the book is closed. With appeal for reluctant and advanced readers, this novel is a rare gem.–Melissa Moore, Union University Library, Jackson, TN
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Gr. 6-9. To display this first novel, which sports an impressive die-cut peephole in the embossed case cover, will be to see it circulate. Despite the unusual packaging, though, the plot of book one in the planned Gideon Trilogy will strike many as familiar fare: 12-year-old acquaintances Kate and Peter are whisked back in time to the England of 1763 by an antigravity machine. Transcending the threadbare framework is the role of compassionate Gideon, a reformed cutpurse whose efforts to help the children bring him dangerously close to his ignoble past. As in Eleanor Updale's Montmorency series, the criminal seeking redemption makes a compelling character, and Buckley-Archer's inclusion of present-day scenes, mostly focused on Kate's and Peter's distraught parents, provides a realistic, suspenseful counterpoint to the fantasy. Running gags culled from the time-and-culture differential and de rigueur cameos by historical figures seem contrived, but the pistol-waving encounters with highwaymen and chases through London's underbelly will bring readers back for more. Jennifer MattsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved