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Secret in the Tower (Time Spies) Paperback – 3 Nov 2006

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Amazon.com: 6 reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
The best out there 22 Oct 2006
By E. R. Bird - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Wizards of the Coast have their own publishing company for non-D&D/Magic the Gathering titles? Now I've seen everything. At this point in time, I'll be entirely blunt with you. When I picked up this first book in the new "Time Spies" series, "Secret In the Tower", I was not especially thrilled. But I'm a fair children's librarian. I try to allow every book I read a chance to surprise me, though few actually take me up on the challenge. In the case of this "Time Spies" book, everything was working against it. For one thing, it's a series book for kids that probably already love "The Magic Treehouse" and "The Chronicles of Droon". And my familiarity with those two series has taught me that when good authors like Mary Pope Osborne (as with her "Pompeii" book) and Tony Abbott (as with "Firegirl") write series fiction for the early-chapter set, often the books are two-dimensional dribble with some of the worst dialogue on the planet. Hopes were, needless to say, not high for "Time Spies". So I started reading... and reading... and reading... until it suddenly occurred to me what it was I held in my hands. This is a series book, yes, but it's more than halfway decent. About the time I discovered that the youngest child had a stuffed elephant named Ellsworth, I was sold. You absolutely have to have series books in your home and library? Well, bypass all the other books out there and take a turn with "Time Spies". If you're gonna do historical series fiction for young `uns, you may as well do it right.

Alex, Mattie, and Sophie are all dealing with their recent move with their parents to a renovated country inn in the middle of Virginia in different ways. Five-year-old Sophie's cool with it, eight-year-old Alex is excited by it, and nine-year-old Mattie is seriously perturbed. Once they arrive at the house their parents have bought, the kids discover that parts of the building date back to colonial times. There's also a mysterious Revolutionary War reenactor there who tells them about the history of the region. When the three discover an old spyglass in one of the house's hidden rooms, suddenly they are sent back in time to fulfill a job of the utmost importance. Codes, revolutionary heroes, and spies abound when these kids become messengers from the future to the past.

So what sets this apart from all the other "Magic Tree House" knock-offs on the market today? Well, for one thing, it's far better written than any of the "Magic Tree House" books churned out. If you know of a kid that's read all of Ms. Osborne's series, you would do very well to encourage them to move on to "Time Spies" as they are similarly historically-minded. The book moves fast so that kids reading it won't get bored, but at the same time you get a clear view of who the characters are right from the start. Facts about the time period they're dealing with (in this case, both the Revolutionary War and the ride of Jack Jouette) are dealt with in kid-friendly but factual terms. The book also happens to be both understandable and exciting, a rare early chapter book combo. Ransom, to her credit, never leaves ends dangling or details swaying in the wind. If there's a mystery at the end of the book, that's only there so that kids will be enticed to read future books in the "Time Spies" series. Extra points to "Secret In the Tower" for including some of the little known George Washington spy info too often ignored in kid lit.

I'm obviously not saying that "Secret In the Tower" is going to win huge awards and revolutionize the way we read series books or anything. I just happen to know that finding quality books for kids of this reading level can be hard sometimes. If you're gonna hand them a series, you may as well make it a good one. You may as well also make it "Time Spies". It's worthy of your consideration.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
...Ransom has penned a wonderful new series that is sure to win over readers of all ages, and get them excited over history! 22 Sep 2006
By Erika Sorocco - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Eight-year-old Alex Chapman doesn't know what to expect when his parents inform him that he, along with his two sisters (Mattie, nine; and Sophie, five), are moving to a creaky country inn, where they'll be the new proprietors, welcoming guests of all shapes and sizes with open arms. All Alex can concentrate on is the fact that he'll be leaving behind his old soccer team, in which he was the best goalie ever, as well as his old school, and countless friends. However, upon arriving at the Gray Horse Inn, Alex's preconceived notions about the old place quickly change; for he soon sees that the Gray Horse Inn appears to hold many strange quirks, and a lot of old-time charm. Upon exploring the three stories, and countless bedrooms with his sister's, Alex discovers a secret passageway that leads to the tower. While, on first sight, it appears to be completely empty, Alex begins searching through the drawers of a lone desk, only to discover an old spyglass that appears to be some sort of antique. The moment Alex, along with Mattie and Sophie, place their hands upon the old spyglass, they are transported back in time, and find themselves on the Inn's front porch...hundreds of years ago (the year 1781, to be exact). Within minutes Mattie, Alex, and Sophie witness two American heroes upon horseback, racing through their backyard, a gang of Redcoat Soldiers hot on their trail; and soon they realize that they're smack dab in the middle of the Battle of Yorktown. With all of this excitement looming around them, the three siblings soon realize that maybe living in an old Inn isn't as bad as they originally thought. In fact, it might turn out to be a somewhat...educational experience.

I rarely read time travel books. However, the premise of Candice Ransom's SECRET IN THE TOWER sounded too good to resist, and I instantly delved into it. I was not disappointed. Ransom has woven an enchanting, spellbinding adventure, that combines a little mystery, a little magic, and a whole lot of history, to create an intrepid tale that will thrill (and educate) young/middle readers. The three characters are extremely relatable, all possessing their own little quirks: Mattie being bossy, and very "big-sister"-ish; Alex being laid back, easygoing, and always up for excitement; and Sophie being the typical, adorable little sister, who's just along for the ride; creating a wonderful mix that blends together marvelously. Mixing two parts MAGIC TREEHOUSE, two parts THE SECRETS OF DROON, and one part AMERICAN GIRLS, Ransom has penned a wonderful new series that is sure to win over readers of all ages, and get them excited over history!

Erika Sorocco

Freelance Reviewer
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
My 9 year old son loves this series! 6 Feb 2007
By C. Nagy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Great series! Highly recommended for those that can't wait for the next Treehouse book! My son is in third grade and received the first two in this series for Christmas. He ignored all his other new books to read this one first and then he immediately began the second in this series! As soon as he finished the second one, he was requesting more. As a mom and as a former reading teacher, I can't tell you how happy this makes me!
Fun for Kids 18 Feb 2014
By LCrabs7 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased the Time Spies series for my children. I like the Time Spies series because they have a bit of "history" they learn and the kids have to figure out what to do in the book. I would recommend this book for the ages of seven to eleven. I would purchase these book for friends and family from this seller.
time spies 26 April 2008
By Susan Casper - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
My students love these stories as it travels back in time. I love the stories as it has sparked an interest in history. Some of my students have gone on to read other historical stories.
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