Abacus

Overview

Abacus is a middle-grade novel that whisks readers along with AP, the 12-year-old protagonist and science geek, who travels through time with Kate, his oh-so-bored 15-year-old sister. Their journeys to Arthurian England, the Wild West, and Ancient Egypt get them into some very tight spots, but AP uses his broad knowledge of science to help them escape. And stalking them on every trip is a hooded stranger whose attacks show he'll do anything to stop them.

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Abacus

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Overview

Abacus is a middle-grade novel that whisks readers along with AP, the 12-year-old protagonist and science geek, who travels through time with Kate, his oh-so-bored 15-year-old sister. Their journeys to Arthurian England, the Wild West, and Ancient Egypt get them into some very tight spots, but AP uses his broad knowledge of science to help them escape. And stalking them on every trip is a hooded stranger whose attacks show he'll do anything to stop them.

Besides being a fast-paced and engaging novel, the story has some additional features including:
• easy to follow instructions at the back of the book for repeating AP's experiments
• separate supplemental reading lists for kids, parents and educators
• extra notes that delve deeper into the historical times and settings.

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Editorial Reviews

CM Magazine
To reassure Kate that their time in all three eras will not adversely impact history, AP explains the time-travel paradox: “nothing we do here in the past will have any lasting effect. As soon as we’re gone, everything we did will disappear with us.” A retired Royal Ontario Museum palaeontologist and University of Toronto professor, McGowan has written extensively, but Abacus is his first novel and reflects his belief that exciting students about science with hands-on experience is essential to their understanding. AP, considered a geeky shrimp by his trendy sister, uses his knowledge of science to extricate them from several dilemmas during their forays into the past where his experiments are considered sorcery. The interplay between the siblings is believable as their concern for each other trumps any conflict. Well-paced prose, an appealing pair of main characters, an appropriately threatening villain, a variety of secondary characters in three past-time frames, fast-paced action, and plenty of historical detail combine in this entertaining novel for middle-grades. McGowan adds suggestions for “Further Reading for Young People” and “Further Reading for Parents and Teachers,” as well as “Notes” that “explain some of the facts in the story” and “give some background information about the real historical events.” The consummate educator, McGowan provides detailed instructions, “How to Repeat the Experiments in the Book,” for readers, cautioning “you MUST have an adult helper for some of the experiments.” although, of course, fictional AP conducts his scientific feats independently and successfully. Highly Recommended.
—Darleen Golke
School Library Journal
Gr 4–6— Twelve-year-old AP and his older sister, Kate, discover a miniature time-traveling device in the form of an abacus. They travel to Arthurian England, the American West (in time for the battle of the Little Big Horn), and to ancient Egypt. AP uses his amazingly broad knowledge of science and history to get them out of various predicaments. Meanwhile, they are stalked by a bumbling nemesis, Snakebite, who seeks the abacus, even though he can time travel without it. His last appearance leaves no doubt that a sequel is in the works. This novel suffers from trying to do too much at once. The author wants to engage children in history and science in addition to telling a good story. Although the action draws readers onward, the characters are not well drawn and the multiple time-travel sequences are too sketchy to satisfy. An audience spoiled by Mary Pope Osborne's "Magic Treehouse" series (Random) may find that they don't remain in a period long enough to become fully engrossed. Moreover, AP and his sister are too blasé about time travel and the people and places they see. The period characters all speak like modern kids and have decidedly modern sensibilities. The book includes (actually pretty cool) instructions to duplicate the science experiments found in the story.—Corinne Henning-Sachs, Walker Memorial Library, Westbrook, ME
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780981083100
  • Publisher: Euphausia Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/2010
  • Pages: 308
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.69 (d)

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