UPDATE: There's a new edition of The Time Cavern available, from Ridan Publishing. Product reviews show for all editions, so if you're on the "old" page make sure to click through.
The Time Cavern is a concise, well-written, and endearing story. It's highly suitable for young adult readers: it was mature and clever, yet not overly complex. As an adult, I also enjoyed the book quite a bit -- it reminded me of the Encyclopedia Brown books I used to read when I was a kid, where the hero won the day through intellect and keen observation.
The story is one of exploration and friendship, as Aaron and Jake investigate the source of mysterious voices on the wind, and become entangled in the associated legend of an Amish boy who disappeared one hundred years ago. The story takes place in the quiet farmlands of Amish country, and Aaron learns about the Amish as he plays junior detective. The two friends' adventures are challenged by everything from the rural expansiveness of the country (how does a ten year old kid get all the way into town to look up a census report?) to various riddles involving chemistry, astronomy, mechanics, and history. While the plot might seem a bit obvious to an adult reader, there are definite twists to keep younger audiences enthralled. The characters are well defined and extremely likable, and reading the book invoked a feeling of tense exploration, just like what Aaron and Jake must have felt as they first entered the Time Cavern.
In a nutshell: wonderful, creative, and inspiring!
Setting / Descriptions: 5
Suitability to Audience: 5
Overall rating: 5 stars
An additional note for time-travel enthusiasts (I'm one myself, having written my own time travel novel) -- the Time Cavern introduces us to what might just be the most original time machine concept ever - not to give anything away, but if you're a nut about time-travel, this is worth for that alone.
on March 3, 2010
This book was on a recommended reading list for 5th grade boys. I wish I could remember what list so I'll know to ignore it next time. I read aloud to my kids a lot and so we read this one.
This book had potential. It had concepts that any 11-year-old boy would be interested in and issues they can all relate to. The author has good storytelling instincts. Unfortunately, he lacks craft. (If the author should read this, I'd like to say that craft can be learned, but storytelling can not. You have talent. You just need to learn to write. Get a book. Take a class. Write a good book next time.)
The book was filled with little mistakes; sentences that didn't make sense, words that were in the wrong form, typos, etc. I found the use of the same boring word like big or large used twice in a sentence and multiple times in a single paragraph extremely distracting, and careless. The author's tendency to switch back and forth between the point of view character was confusing. I don't like reading a badly written book to my kids because it teaches bad writing.
Worst of all, the author fails to follow through on his themes. His primary theme is about the desire of a pre-adolescent to obtain greater personal freedom conflicting with a parent's fear that the child doesn't yet have the sense of responsibility to justify said freedom. The author begins to show the hero of the story learning that being honest with his parents and following through with promises is earning him greater freedom. But as the story continues, the hero just finds better ways to lie, even when the truth could have gotten him what he wanted. In the end, he doesn't learn. The idea that a hero learns and grows into a better person is important in any literature, but even more so in children's literature. Even my 11-year-old son picked up on this. He said he did not like the main character because he was rude to his parents (even though he is very polite in the pleas and thank you way) and he lied when he didn't need to.
This book came so close to being good, but because of lack of writing skill, it just didn't make it.
I immediately think of the phrase, "judging a book by its cover," as I write this. Face it. We all do it, which is all the more reason for an author like Todd Fonseca to spend so much time on the cover of The Time Cavern. It is both appealing and eye catching. I hope that Todd's hard work pays off because readers will definitely not be disappointed with what's behind this cover.
As the story unfolds, the reader is introduced to a ten year old boy named Aaron who is camping on his own for the first time. Of course, all ten year olds have a wild imagination and long for a sense of independence, so Aaron immediately begins to worry about the sounds he hears outside the tent. He also senses that he is being watched. Fonseca dedicates the book to his own son, also named Aaron. As I nestled into the story, I imagined the author creating this story as a bedtime tale for his son. If that is the case, the author has done an excellent job of transpiring his story to the page.
Aaron decides to investigate the noises outside the tent, but before doing so, he records his thoughts in a notebook. Here, we learn that Aaron is actually camping in the backyard of his new home, in which his family just moved into the day before. The beginning of the story is set up as a nice metaphor for the entire book. You may be frowning at the thought of yet another time travel story based on the title alone, but the young protagonist leaving a big concrete city and moving to the corn fields of Amish country makes for a nice set-up in my opinion which many young readers can relate to.
Fonseca has a talent for appealing to a young audience in the use of his subject matter....independence, moving to a new home, making friends, being afraid, exploration, and the use of the imagination, etc. Outside of the young boy's adventures the author also uses a nice mix of dialog to keep his story moving, evenly exposing the reader to other characters including Aaron's parents.
Aaron soon forms a friendship with a neighboring girl named Jake, who tells him his house is haunted. This sends Aaron into a frenzy to investigate the noises he's been hearing, along with the mysterious eyes he sees in the old family barn. While exploring the barn, Aaron finds the page from a diary of a young boy who lived over 100 years ago. The writings on the page echo the mysterious feeling Aaron has been experiencing..."hearing your name being called by the wind."
The next day, Aaron seeks out Jake to ask her about what she had said about his house and what she might know about the mysterious wind. He shows her the diary page he found and the two begin a journey they will not soon forget as they set out to solve the mystery of the Amish boy who wrote the diary entry, the howling wind that whispers your name, and an ancient cavern filled with even more secrets.
Todd Fonseca's book is an adventure story that both kids and adults will love. It feeds the imagination, just as the tale itself builds upon the eagerness of its characters to solve the mystery. Fonseca's main characters, Aaron and Jake, are believable and come alive on the page through their real-life dialog and eagerness to learn the truth. The author does a great job of keeping the momentum going with nicely paced conflict and interest, which will definitely keep the pages turning.
When Aaron moves into an old Amish farm in the country, he's surprised at all the things that he discovers--a new friend named Jake, who is actually a girl, a mysterious secret surrounding his house, and an old chest containing a diary, a map, and odd mechanisms. These things all lead Aaron and Jake to a time machine in a secluded part of the forest and on an adventure they won't forget.
The Time Cavern is a great adventure for younger readers, with a unique setting that is at once interesting and educational, and not at all boring. Aaron is a well developed and lively character, and although his adventures are far fetched, many kids will be able to relate to his curiosity and his home life. Full of enough details to keep younger readers happily occupied, but not too many as to confuse them, The Time Cavern is well balanced. However, towards the end and during the climatic chapters, some kids may have a little bit of trouble keeping up, as it does get a little confusing, even for an older reader. But once they wade through those turbulent and fast paced chapters, they'll be begging for more adventures with Aaron and Jake.
I remain charmed and delighted after finishing Todd Fonseca's The Time Cavern. As other reviewers point out, this is the story of two youngsters, a brilliant boy who has recently relocated from the city to the country and an adventurous farm girl. Tom Sawyer-style, they embark upon adventures that lead them to very unexpected places. I don't want to reveal more of the story, though, given the title, it's no surprise that a time cavern is involved. It's a great read, and the ending is an amazing surprise.
This isn't simply a sci-fi thriller, though both terms describe it. The author sets the tale in Amish farm country, unfamiliar territory to this reader. The gentle Amish culture provides a backdrop for the story, adding a haunting dimension. It's also farm country--more unfamiliar territory for me. The only thing I knew about corn was how to eat it; the story teaches us about threshing and combines and other rural mysteries as part of the farm cycle.
Charming is the only word I can think of to describe this book. The Amish element, the two cute kids, their families, the old barn, and, of course, what they discover in the woods is a compelling blend. I'm looking forward to the sequel.
The values dimension of this book must be emphasized. When I was in graduate school in counseling, we counselors-to-be would sit around with our professors and talk about the decline in social values that we saw in the mass culture around us. We'd wring our hands and moan, "What's it all about?" The state of mass culture has gotten more alarming since my school days.
This book embodies personal health. It stars two bright, inquisitive kids from intact families. Both families have moms and dads devoted to strong and positive parenting. They know where there kids are. Or at least they try to: Those kids are a handful. The book weaves its spell with no violence, monsters, explosions, strong language--and not a single vampire! I'd recommend it to all YA fans and their parents. I enjoyed it thoroughly.
on March 30, 2009
Now only if I knew of a tree like the tree in "The Time Cavern." I must admit that I'm attracted to the idea of time travel and Tom Fonseca's "Time Cavern" portrays a new twist on this mode of make-believe (or is it?) transport. I thought the description of how to get from here to there to be perfectly believable. Using the stars and light years--that only makes sense. How else would one travel in time?
The two main characters are likable and I also liked the idea of involving the Amish in the story. I thought this worked well with linking the present with the past as well as creating a variation of perspective from a unique way of life. Perhaps we'll see more of this in another installment?
The "Time Cavern" is an adventure mixed with riddle-solving scenarios that many kids of this age group will find appealing.
on December 14, 2009
Todd Fonseca's The Time Cavern is a book that has retained all the wonder and charm of the novels of my youth. Our 10 year old hero, Aaron, is a fascinating character that exudes with this youthfulness that is believable and charming.
Not overly complicated, The Time Cavern was something my 8 year old enjoyed reading to me. He gushed about the story line and how 'cool' it was to be Aaron. Mr. Fonseca's ease in storytelling drew my son into the vividness of the story and enable him to describe to me the wonder that he felt and imagined. The tale reminded me of The Hardy Boys, The Alfred Hitchcock Solve-Them-Yourself Mysteries, and Encyclopedia Brown genres. Well written, wholesome and enchanting. A recommended read for those up and coming adventurers in the family!
on February 27, 2009
Young adult literature is a very tricky trail to traverse. The rare greats - such as the Harry Potter series - can transcend its target audience. Todd A Fonseca's brilliant "The Time Cavern" does exactly that. It's a thrilling journey through time that will mesmerize adults as well as children.
Combining great characters (especially the two kids that drive the story), a wonderful setting, and fascinating background and scientific information, Fonesca has created a truly magnificent work that deserves to stand alongside other pioneers in the young adult genre.
"The Time Cavern" is an absolute page-turner and one of the best I've read in recent memory.
on April 1, 2009
I know that this is a book recommended for 9-12 year olds, I'm an adult, and I thoroughly enjoyed every page of this story. Not just from trying to appreciate it from a young person's perspective, but simply as a reader. The author, Todd Fonseca, has a wonderful gift for storytelling and he obviously put a lot of love into crafting this tale and bringing his characters to life. They seem as real as any characters I've ever read. There are many touching moments; the author has a perfect grasp of the dynamics within a young family and the motivations and thoughts of a young boy pushing the boundaries to gain some independence and his desire to explore his new surroundings.
The plot of The Time Cavern is very engaging and had me rapidly turning pages eager to get to the core of the mystery presented. The young protagonists stumble across the story of an Amish child who went missing a hundred years ago, and find clues that might relate to the missing boy. Some spooky and supernatural events lead them to a strange place that they cannot resist investigating. What unfolds is an enticing, exciting, slightly scary secret place that is at once highly advanced and possibly otherwordly.
The Time Cavern is a wonderful adventure story that allows the reader to really feel for and identify with the characters. I can certainly remember what it was like to be that age, eager to explore, my mind rife with imagination. The mystery of The Time Cavern is clever, well-thought out, nicely researched in its details, and leaves me wanting more. I would love to read more of this story, so I hope a sequel will be forthcoming. Very well-written & highly recommended to readers of all ages!
Rai Aren, co-author of Secret of the Sands
on October 27, 2009
On the surface, "The Time Cavern," appears to be an average, YA Sci-Fi adventure tale. The plot initially simplistic: A young boy (Aaron) and his tomboy girlfriend (Jake), discover an ancient mystery of the universe, a time machine. Yet, the story is more than a fiction-adventure for young boys (and girls). It is also a learning tool. For, nestled within the pages of his story, Todd Fonseca subtly weaves an abundance of life-lessons.
I was pleasantly surprised to find "The Time Cavern" overflowing with factoids involving astronomy, science, history, religious acceptance, and family tolerance...all intertwined into an intriguing tale of mystery, discovery and suspense.
One of my favorite chapters involved a brief, but heartfelt, father-son talk...climaxing with ten-year-old Aaron's realization that he indeed needed to take responsibility in his being grounded. Sprinkled throughout the book, precious gems of knowledge and wisdom are as abundant as the hidden clues propelling Aaron and Jake's quest to solve the ancient mystery.
I highly recommend "The Time Cavern," for parents that are looking for an intellectual story that neither talks over the heads of its readers, or talks down to them. It is easy to tell from Todd Fonseca's tale, that he possesses the wisdom of the ancients, and the soul of eternal youth.