This is a story about drift. Drift in the sense of ocean currents that wash artifacts up on a distant shore. Drift in the sense of our lives, as we bob along, hopefully keeping our heads above the waves but sometimes finding it easier to let ourselves sink down to the bottom. And I think that the best headspace to read this book in, is to allow yourself to drift through the story.
It is a story that winds the lives of our two narrators, calling into question the role of reader and storyteller by way of quantum physics and Buddhism. Curious? Confused? Either you'll really get into A Tale for the Time Being, or it won't be your cup of tea. I suspect that fellow Murakami lovers will enjoy the existential nature of it.
So I'm not going to tell you any more. I'm not going to dissect character or give you more plot than you already have. Get comfortable, open it, take a deep breath, and plunge.
Books for middle school readers about the middle ages are too often dry affairs that favor historical fact over captivating magical scenes. This is far from the case in Stumbling on a Tale, the latest addition to the 'Time to Time Kids' series, which decorates its facts with the compellingly colorful embellishment of fiction.
A lively introduction firmly cements the adventure with a dose of historical explanation that creates a solid backdrop of world history, setting the stage for the story to follow.
Enter twelve-year-old Henry Hawkins and his older stepsister Peri, who are still developing their newfound relationship as siblings. Henry's stepsister isn't the shy, antisocial girl he'd envisioned a fifteen-year-old to be: she's precocious, curious, and always ready to step into trouble - and thus, she's at the top of his list of things to worry about.
They're again playing with a curious book that holds strange powers; this time trying to find out more about its author and publisher. When Max repeats the sequence of events that led to their last time-traveling history adventure, disaster once again strikes. This time they're not in 1900s New York City, but are in a forest in an era that feels much older.
The key to returning home lies in finding an antique. The only problem is that Max, who has brought them all here, has no idea what the antique is - and so they are looking for a needle in a haystack.
Knights, dragons, and lost siblings - oh my! Winding through the historical encounters are the real, contemporary concerns of kids who have had to make big adjustments to modern times.
It may take a return home to make these Middle Ages events make sense - and even then, life becomes more complicated when time travel adventures are added to the mix.
Quizzes, puzzles, riddles and games, activities, and even recipes at the conclusion of the story add value to this tale, which ends in a manner that paves the way for more time-traveling history explorations; but its real meat and protein lie in chapters packed with a vivid blend of adventure quest and historical insights.
As the siblings come to realize some of the meanings of the antiques, the book, and their encounters, they also come to absorb wisdom and more mature approaches to problem-solving and begin to understand how myths, quests, and history intersect.
A rollicking good adventure story spiced with real insights on past and present make Stumbling on a Tale a lively read highly recommended for any middle-grade fan of time travel action stories.
In the far, far future, vampires have taken over Earth and forced humans outward into the galaxy. Yet there are these time travel warriors who travel to the past in hopes of reclaiming the future. In this tale, the battlefront is modern day Seattle, Washington.
This is a fast-paced story with some fun tech, quirky characters, and one vengeful vampire. Agent Mu, as she comes to be called, kind of stumbled upon this gig. Out of work and out of money, she’s kicking around Seattle trying to figure out her next move when she comes upon two men in an alley fighting. Pretty soon, things turn weird and gory as one starts biting into the other. Once the attacker flees, our would be hero approaches the remaining man, who tells her to make the drop. Yep, there’s a touch of spy-ness going on here too, which makes the book extra fun.
So, she makes the drop and things happen pretty fast from there. Pretty soon, her handler is assuming she knows what she’s doing and she gets her cool vampire killing, gadget using, spy name of Agent Mu. She rolls with it, because what else does she have going on anyway?
There’s plenty of cool tech here, including Johnny, who is a very fancy personal assistant device. Though if you called him that, he would take it as an insult. There’s various weapons, a cool car, and fancy house with all sorts of tech built into it. Then there is the Gynoid – a humanoid automaton with lots of cool capabilities. But for some reason, it doesn’t have a mount or pocket or such for holding Johnny while the team runs around.
One of the things I liked about this tale was that you didn’t know the gender of our main character until the conversation where she gets her spy name. It’s left up to the reader to build an image of the main hero based on their first impressions. Also, and this is just my interpretation, I think she swings both ways. While there is no sex in this story to confirm yeah or nay on that, it’s great to see the door left open.
So over all, it was a very fun ride. My few criticisms are small. For instance, Gynoid has all sorts of trays and compartments and mounts, so why not one for Johnny? The tale doesn’t really include info about the vampires of the future, and yet there’s that whole spiel about them taking Earth in the far future in the book’s description. So I would have liked a little more backstory within the actual story. Other than that, I had a lot of fun with it. I loved the toothbrush and the comedy that brought into the story.