- Age Range: 9 - 12 years
- Grade Level: 4 - 7
- Lexile Measure: 900L (What's this?)
- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: Philomel Books (March 5, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0399244514
- ISBN-13: 978-0399244513
- Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,631,368 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Trouble in Timbuktu Hardcover – March 5, 2009
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From School Library Journal
Grade 6–9—Determined to catch a pair of tourists in the act of illegally purchasing ancient manuscripts in Timbuktu, Ayisha and her twin brother, Ahmed, embark on a risky entrapment scheme that takes them on a harrowing trip into the Sahara desert and down the Niger River. Although he's only 12, Ahmed is already an accomplished linguist who makes needed money for his family by guiding tourists around that fabled city. As a proper Muslim girl, Ayisha would not normally meet such strangers, but she is clever and determined, finding a way to be included in one of his jobs. Ayisha is the focus of this third-person narrative, but because the author needs to introduce so much of Malian culture to her readers, the girl must notice and comment on much that she would normally take for granted. Through her eyes and Ahmed's explanations, readers learn a great deal about their world. Kessler's own travels inform the narrative, but teens will appreciate the survival adventure as much as the unique setting. A glossary of words and phrases in French, Arabic, and Tamashek is appended.—Kathleen Isaacs, Towson University, MD
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For ignorant Westerners, Timbuktu is often a metaphor for a primitive place far from civilization, somewhere in wild Africa. Kessler dispels that myth, and working from her own experiences on several visits there, she celebrates Timbuktu’s history. What was once a thriving commercial, religious, and academic center, stretching as far back as the eleventh century, the city is still renowned for Islamic studies, and today there are 16 libraries that house just a small portion of a 700,000-piece collection of ancient manuscripts. The setting is actually more exciting than the contrived, contemporary story about Ayisha, 13, and her twin brother, Ahmed, who act as tourist guides for two evil Americans who are planning to steal ancient manuscripts. Of course, the smart kids trick the silly, condescending crooks, who do not realize that Ahmed can understand their English, and with the help of some adults, the twins save their national treasure. Readers who can overlook the plot’s weaknesses will be fascinated by the rich history that reaches into the present day. Grades 7-12. --Hazel Rochman