On Etruscan Time
On the William Allen White Award 2008 Master List (see a podcast of some young Kansas readers booktalking On Etruscan Time!), and a nominee for Missouri's Mark Twain award 2007-2008. Also published in Italian, and soon will be available in Chinese.
Eleven-year-old Hector, spending the summer with his archaeologist mother at a dig near Florence, unearths a strange eye-shaped stone at the site of what was once an Etruscan village. The artifact brings on nightmares about Arath, who lived two thousand years ago and was in terrible danger. The stone transports both boys back and forth into each other's time. In Etruscan time, "Heck," invisible to everyone but Arath, is horrified to learn that the boy is to become a human sacrifice at the hands of a cruel relative. The story of how Hector works to foil the plot in the past and to make a remarkable discovery in the present, based on knowledge gleaned from his other-life experience, is fast-paced and suspenseful. The author imbues her fantasy with plausibility and peppers the text with fascinating shards of ancient history and archeology. A good read appended with an author's note and Etruscan-English and Italian-English glossaries.
Through terrifying time-warp trips between now and then, [Hector] meets and tries to save a young boy from possible execution. . . . Hector's frustration about being "invisible" to grown-ups will reverberate with most kids, and Barrett's vivid details, particularly the day-to-day work of archaeologists, will capture readers interested in ancient civilizations. Appended material includes an author's note explaining more about Etruscan life, as well as Etruscan and Italian glossaries.
Barrett's accurate description of the archaeological dig and the details of Etruscan daily life are well researched and interesting. The plot holds excitement and suspense as readers wonder if Hector will find a way to save his friend. While reluctant readers may find the Italian and Etruscan words and phrases difficult to field, a glossary of terms for each language is appended. This is a good choice for kids who are interested in time travel or history.
School Library Journal
This time travel story . . . encompasses not only the excitement of going back in time but also covers a great deal of personal drama as well. Barrett keeps the plot moving briskly along and never removes the shadow of uncertainty and danger from her story. She also throws in the very real frustration that most kids have who tell adults what is going in their lives only to ignored or even worse, disbelieved.
. . . [The] entire issue of time travel is handled and explained quite well and Barrett follows-up her story with a nice little Afterword about the Etruscan people. (I love it when authors take the time to do that.) Hector learns a lot about himself and what it means to make yourself heard and he strikes a decent blow for kids everywhere who are afraid to speak their minds. It's all very well done and interesting as well. . .
Tracy Barrett has crafted a nice little adventure story with a male protagonist in an exotic location that involves time travel, danger and a lot of quick thinking. She has written, in essence, the perfect book for middle-grade boys.
By moving back and forth in time, Hector not only learns all about the customs, clothing, and food of the time, but he is also able to save the life of Arath. Hector also learns a lot about himself and gains respect among the adults at the dig. The story is very gripping.