The Barnes & Noble Review
Writer Jon Scieszka, creator of a time-traveling trio of boys who get to see history (and sometimes the future) firsthand, teams up with illustrator Adam McCauley to take readers along on an adventure-filled trip to ancient Japan in Sam Samurai, the tenth book in the Time Warp Trio series.
Time travel and trouble are ordinary fare for Joe, Sam, and Fred, whose reading material -- a deceptively ordinary-looking book given to Joe by his magician uncle -- keeps transporting them through time. Not only has the trio faced down fire-breathing dragons, black knights, evil Egyptian priests, wicked pirates, battling gladiators, and noisome Neanderthals; on one trip -- into the future, for a change -- they met their great-granddaughters and namesakes: Jo, Sammie, and Freddi. This time it's a bit of haiku that sends the boys tumbling through time from their 21st-century classroom to 17th-century Japan, where samurai warriors reign supreme.
As with previous adventures, the boys must focus on keeping their heads on straight -- in this case, in a most literal sense -- while they scramble to find the magical book that will allow them to return to their own time. Sword-wielding samurai, a faulty Auto Translator, and the boys' inability to adapt quickly enough to this strange new culture combine to make their journey a hair-raising adventure. But with a bit of fast thinking, a trick that passes for magic, and the help of their great-granddaughters, the boys will make it out in time to anticipate their next adventure.
The action is fast and furious, with wordplay and swordplay going hand in hand. An encounter with a samurai named Owattabutt (oh-what-a-butt) is guaranteed to generate giggles even as it creates a tense moment for the time-traveling trio. And as a side benefit, young readers will not only have fun while learning tidbits of history; they can also learn some Japanese, including the words for "noodle," "chopsticks," and the numbers from 1 to 10. (Beth Amos)
The story begins in seventeenth century Japan when three boys warp into a roadside hut and think they've beheaded a Samurai, only to discover that it is his armor and he is in the doorway behind them. Of course, they must recover The Book in the past in order to return to the present. It is their feeble efforts to write Haiku for a school assignment that has landed them here in the first place. Readers will appreciate a few lame tricks and jokes that pass the three off as "entertainers" on the road into the palace and let them keep their heads. Bits of chaos occur when their Auto-Translator, which enables them to speak and understand Japanese fails. Scieszka has a good time with the broad humor of a Japanese official named Owattabutt and the guide, Tada Honda, and his quick riff of what the boys see along the roadside, always a plus for funny books. McCauley's illustrations move the story along and look enough like Lane Smith's so as not to offend aficionados of the series. In addition, the boys' three great-granddaughters make an appearance here, as they did in the book 2095a nice time wrap in this time warp. But, when they return, the boys' Haiku summary of their trip only earns them a Cbecause it didn't follow the form and it didn't give three examples, says their teacher, Ms. Basho. You just can't win 'em all. This is the tenth entry in the humorous "The Time Warp Trio" series. 2001, Viking, $14.99. Ages 7 to 11. Reviewer: Susan Hepler
School Library Journal
Gr 2-5-The Time Warp Trio is off again! This time, Sam, Fred, and Joe are working on a haiku writing assignment when they accidentally trigger their time travel Book and are transported back to old Japan. According to the rules, they can't return to the 21st century until they find the Book in the past. Unfortunately, it tends to hide in difficult and dangerous places-and important features like its "Auto Translator" keep malfunctioning. Posing as itinerant entertainers, the three friends encounter the warrior samurai Tada Honda, his cruel war leader Owattabutt, and even their own great-granddaughters who are time-traveling from the future (and who have a much more advanced understanding of the process). Haiku verses are sprinkled through the text. Elements of Japanese history blend with wild anachronisms and off-the-wall humor in an adventure that will be welcomed by children. The short text and snappy humor make the story a good choice for reluctant readers.-Elaine E. Knight, Lincoln Elementary Schools, IL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Guys writing poetry? What a radical concept. Horsing around over a homework assignment, the Time Warp Trio inadvertently utters a haiku near The Book, and is "flushed down four hundred years," to ancient Japan where, after heroically wiping out an empty suit of samurai armor, nearly getting sliced into sushi by plug-ugly samurai Owattabut (guess why) and meeting their own granddaughters (see 2095, 1995) paddling along on a temporal jaunt of their own, the three entertain the great Ieyasu Tokugawa himself with a string of haiku that propel them back to Brooklyn-but merit only a C- from their teacher, Ms. Basho. Aswirl with mini-lectures and crumbs of general information about Japanese poetry and society, the arbitrary plot line and wiseacre dialogue will elicit the usual rumbles-of laughter, that is. It's not the freshest of the Trio's escapades, but the author plainly isn't ready to throw in the bowel-er, towel, quite yet. (Fiction. 9-11)