Friday, October 30, 2020

Colton’s Time Machine: Book 4

 Colton’s Time MachineBook 4: Betsy Ross, Mount Rushmore, and the Statue of Liberty 

by Rebecca Massey

Time travel books have always been a favorite of mine, ever since I read Heinlein’s masterpiece “The Door Into Summer” when I was 8 or 9. As a result of that preference, I knew that I would enjoy reading Rebecca Massey’s series of children books in her series “Colton’s Time Machine” and I wasn’t disappointed when I started with book 4 in the series.

Colton is a young boy who has a bunch of dragons as friends – read Colton’s Pocket Dragon books for that series. In this time travel series, a spin-off the original series – he wants to expose the dragons to a little American history, so he builds a machine to time travel and off we go.

Concurrently with my reading the books, I also had my son Anderson – who was 10 at the time – read them and give me his impressions. He liked them, and because Anderson is already a history buff, he enjoyed learning the somewhat deep in the weeds facts that Massey likes to communicate in the stories.

Anderson and I agreed on that aspect – if one enters the make believe reality of the fact that these are aimed at children to start with, and if one sets aside the pedantic tendencies of the Virgo that I am (I was bothered by the facts that the historical people that Colton visits seem to immediately accept time travel and the existence of dragons with little resistance… but we overlooked that and did enjoy the learning parts cleverly woven into the narrative.

One thing that did bother us was the static quality of the illustrations. While no credit is given to the illustrator, it appears to me that they are computer generated illustrations, which while the serve the basic goal of an illustration – to “illustrate” a passage in the story – they felt and looked computer-generated and lacked the individuality of a human-made illustration. My apologies in advance if these were indeed hand-made by a human… I would check the DNA for Vulcan blood.

We learned a lot and that’s all that counts… really. We learned what the 12 folds in the proper way to fold an American flag mean – something that after serving almost 23 years in the US Navy I actually never knew; we learned the history of the Pledge of Allegiance, and we learned that Betsy Ross eventually made six more flags after the first one.

We also learned the spectacularly cool name of the Mount Rushmore sculptor, and the “secret room” that he started to carve into the mount. Colton’s liking of sculptors then leads the reader to Bertholdi’s Lady Liberty (we did know his name) and the story behind what is perhaps the most famous statue in the modern world.

In summary, this book is both immensely readable and superbly informational to get your little tyke ahead of his peers when it comes to cool aspects of American history and how easy it is to believe in dragons.