Suffering from a degenerative eye condition, twelve-year-old Spencer Lemon doesn’t think of himself as hero material, so he’s surprised to become the guardian of a powerful magical book that can bring historical figures back from the dead. As the book’s new protector, he can get advice on his swing from Babe Ruth or have Julia Child sauté him some pork chops, but he must never show the book to anyone. Unable to resist, he immediately shares the secret with his autistic best friend Gregor, and now Socrates is loose on the streets of LA, a gun-toting Teddy Roosevelt is in the house, and a mysterious German man is on their trail, intent on taking the book for himself. Spencer’s beginning to think he’s up to the challenge, though, and he might just find a way to protect the book and save themselves before history’s vilest villains are released back into the world. This thoroughly enjoyable story offers a high-spirited adventure enhanced with a dose of educational fun. Spencer and Gregor are likable heroes, realistically dealing with their respective limitations without becoming flat representatives of special needs kids. The historical element of the novel lacks nuance, as people are either good (Teddy Roosevelt, Einstein) or evil (Stalin, Hitler), but there are hints that some former villains can find redemption. The violence here is mild, but the tension is real, as the boys face down guns and chase bad guys into the woods. Still, all ends well, and a few remaining secrets at novel’s end hint at possible sequels, which should please history and time-travel fans who will enjoy following along on this excellent adventure. [End Page 356]
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Fry, Erin. Secrets of the Book. Two Lions/Amazon, 2014. [294p]. ISBN 978-1-4778-4716-9 $14.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 5-7.
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