The Book of Time, by Guillaume Prévost (lexile: 830; AR book level: 5.6; 213 pp)
A secret room in the basement of a used bookstore. An old book, a strangely-carved stone, and an odd coin with a hole in the middle. And when the coin meets the stone — welcome to a whirlwind adventure of time travel, daring rescue, and battle against an unknown enemy.
Fourteen-year-old Sam Faulkner’s life is difficult. His mother died three years ago, and since then his father, Allan, has become increasingly distant, leaving Sam to live with his grandparents. Now, however, Allan has been missing for 10 days, and Sam goes to his bookstore to see if there are any clues. There he finds the hidden room, the book, the stone and coin — and learns that his father has somehow discovered how to travel through time.
As Sam attempts to follow his father into the past, he can’t at first figure out how to determine when and where he’ll end up — a medieval abbey in Scotland, France during World War I, ancient Egypt. Gradually he unravels the secrets of using the stone, and begins to suspect that his father is trapped somewhere in time, unable to get home. Can Sam figure out where and when? Can he somehow get there to rescue him? And is there someone else chasing after the secret of time travel, and perhaps even trying to stop Sam?
Sam pursues these mysteries in the two sequels, with plenty of surprises, narrow escapes, and a satisfying ending. I like the series because of Sam’s character, his courage, and all the true historical details woven into each of his ventures into the past. (The author is a history teacher, and put a lot of research into the story.) And it’s different — different from lots of other fantasy and time travel books I’ve read. It was originally written in French, but I found the translation into English read clearly and naturally.
# 2 The Gate of Days (lexile: 800; AR book level: 5.7; 249 pp)
# 3 The Circle of Gold (lexile: 850; AR book level: 6.3; 288 pp)