Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Time Spies: Secret in the Tower

Time Spies: Secret in the Tower

Candice F. Ransom
Illustrator:  Greg Call 
For ages 7 to 9
Mirrorstone, 2006   ISBN: 978-0786940271

Alex and his sister Mattie are on their way to see their new home for the first time. Neither of them are very enthusiastic about the way in which their parents suddenly decided to move the family from their home in Maryland to run a bed and breakfast in a large old house in the Virginia countryside. Surely it is going to be boring in this new place and Mattie is convinced that they are going to be surrounded by “nothing but cows.”

When he sees the house, Alex cannot help feeling intrigued. There is something about the place which interests him. It is almost as if the house itself is trying to communicate with him. As they walk in the door Alex and Mattie find out that the first guest is already there. Mr. Jones is a Revolutionary War re-enactor and he tells the children about a local hero called Jack Jouett who risked his life to warn Thomas Jefferson that the Redcoats were coming to take him into custody. He also writes a strange postcard which he leaves on the For Outgoing Mail tray.

As they are exploring the house the children discover that there is a secret room behind a book case and in it they find a box containing a spyglass. When they take the spyglass out and hold it they are transported back in time to the day when Jack Jouett rode out to warn Thomas Jefferson and his friends about the coming British soldiers. Later they take another journey and this time they travel back to the day when General Cornwallis surrendered to General Washington at Yorktown. There they help a young boy deliver a very important message to General Washington himself and thus play a small role in American history.

This first book in what promises to be a very appealing series is sure to capture the interest of readers who like stories which involve time travel, magic, and unplanned adventures. In addition to finding this book entertaining and enjoyable to read, children will find themselves learning a fair bit about the American Revolution without really thinking about it. At the back of the book the author includes a letter from Mr. Jones the re-enactor in the story which includes supplementary information about the American Revolution. In addition there is a “Time Spies Mission” section which shows readers how to write like a revolutionary spy using invisible ink and a home made code book.