The Left Behinds: Abe Lincoln and the Selfie that Saved the Union

The Left Behinds: Abe Lincoln and the Selfie that Saved the Union

by David Potter


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Percy Jackson fans will embrace this humorous time-travel adventure that sends Mel and his friends right into the Civil War’s Battle of Gettysburg.
Mel, Bev, and Brandon—the Left Behinds—are at it again. When the iTime app on their phones sends them to Washington, D.C., in 1863, they find themselves smack dab in the middle of the Civil War. They sit in on a séance with First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln and are shown every inch of the White House by Tad, the youngest Lincoln. But when they meet President Abe Lincoln himself, he is preoccupied with the fateful battle at Gettysburg, which is just under way.
The kids receive their marching orders—they must somehow travel to Gettysburg, make sure what’s supposed to happen does happen, save the Union, and be home in time for dinner. No biggie. After all, it’s only the entire future of the country at stake. 
Includes an author’s note and information on Civil War reenactments and living history sites around the nation.
Praise for the Left Behinds series:
“The narrative is pure fun. . . . History made silly for readers who can’t get into it straight.” —Kirkus Reviews
“This is Magic Tree House all grown up, and kids who once loved that time travel conceit will be delighted all over again.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Readers will charge through these super-short chapters like a Revolutionary soldier on the run.” —BookPage

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385390606
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 01/12/2016
Series: Left Behinds Series
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.30(d)
Lexile: 620L (what's this?)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

David Potter developed a love for American history as a boy growing up near Morristown, New Jersey, where George Washington spent the winters of 1777 and 1779. He became interested in the Civil War after attending reenactments, memorials, and celebrations at the Gettysburg National Military Park during the 150th anniversary in 2013. You can visit David online at, on Facebook, and on Twitter at @DPotterBooks.

Read an Excerpt

Look--it’s not as if I want to be a time-traveler or anything. I really have a lot of other thingsgoing on that keep me busy, such as school, and, you know, stuff. I also happen to be a kid--twelve and three quarters years old, to be exact--which means you can be sure no one is going to pay me to go bouncing across the centuries. I don’t even get paid for doing chores or homework. And it’s not my fault that my phone happens to have an app on it called iTime--it wasn’t meant for me, that much I can tell you.


To complicate matters, there are these two other kids--Bev and Brandon--who also have the iTime app on their phones. I wouldn’t call them my friends, exactly, though we have gotten to know each other a little better since our first adventure. In case you haven’t heard about it, we only rescued General George Washington from being shot dead as a doornail and then helped him defeat the Hessians at the Battle of Trenton. So thanks to us, the United States of America is alive and well. And you are very welcome.


We’ve been thrown together, Bev and Brandon and me. We’re the only kids at the Fredericksville School who didn’t go home for the Christmas holidays. Our parents are kind of busy, is the thing. So they call us the Left Behinds. Two seconds ago we hit the Submit button on our iTime apps and went from the eighteenth century to the twenty-first. The plan was to hop over to the school, grab something to eat, maybe take a hot shower. And then open the presents our parents had shipped, because today still is, after all, Christmas Day.


So we land on our butts, right where we should be--in the basement of Taylor’s General Store on the grounds of Washington Crossing Historic Park. The problem is, we’re not alone.


There’s this crazy old guy who’s kind of yelling at us. His name is Professor Moncrieff, and he is the inventor—or the rather the co-inventor, along with his former student--of the iTime app. We’ve just been told that the former student has Gone Bad. Name of Kurtis. He’s out to make a billion dollars or so off the iTime app, for one thing. For another, he intends to go back in time and change things. Just to prove that he can cause trouble, because that’s what he likes to do.


There’s also our teacher, Mr. Hart, whose job is to go with us everywhere. He sort of missed the boat on the time-travel thing, but he did keep in touch via text. And please don’t ask me how a guy can text from one century to the next. I don’t even know how electricity works, according to Ben Franklin--that’s right, the Ben Franklin--but I already told that story.


Lastly, there are these military-type guys in the room. Each one wears mirrored sunglasses and stands with his arms folded across his chest. The message: we mean business.


“Children,” Professor Moncrieff says now. “We do not have all the time in the world. To use the word time in its most traditional sense. Please give me your phones. They must be deprogrammed.”


Children? Who does this old dude think he’s talking to--second graders? Give me a break. But the girl child among us--that would be Bev--doesn’t seem to take offense. She’s smart, Bev is. She’s so smart she doesn’t ever let you forget it, which is annoying. “What’s the hurry?” asks Bev.


Professor Moncrieff doesn’t like the question. He frowns, and his dull blue eyes narrow further, if that’s even possible. You can tell he thinks Bev’s an impertinent smarty-parts.


“We don’t have time to debate this!” Professor Moncrieff says. “As we speak, Kurtis is meddling in an event that could prove catastrophic if he is not hunted down and brought toheel. This unauthorized time-travel adventuring must be stopped. My men areprofessional trackers. They will find Kurtis, I assure you. Now hand over your phones.”


“No way,” Brandon says. Normally Brandon’s a pretty mellow dude. He doesn’t worry himself over trifles like homework or good grades. But right now Brandon’s not buying it. “How are these guys gonna find him? It’s a big country. In any century.”


“I have added new functionality--never you mind! Now hand over your phones--or else.” He nods his head at his three goons--I mean his three professional trackers--who each take a menacing step toward us.


“You can have this,” I say, and open up the leather satchel I happen to be carrying with me. I snatched the satchel from a Mr. Kramm, who was Kurtis’s right-hand man back in 1776. Stenciled on the outside are the letters t.g.w., inc., which stand for Things Go Wrong, Incorporated. That’s Kurtis’s idea of a joke.


Inside are papers, maps, gold coins, and extra bullets. I take out a handful of the gold coins, put them in my pocket--hey, you never know--and toss the satchel on the ground. “I don’t want it,” I say. “And I don’t want this either.” I also happen to have taken Mr. Kramm’s German Luger, a World War II–­era pistol. I figure nothing good is going to come from my hanging on to it.


Neither Professor Moncrieff nor his men seem impressed. They just want our phones. Mr. Hart doesn’t seem to know what to do. At this point he is--to use one of Bev’s favorite expressions--totally useless.


But who’s got more of a stake in history going right than us?


So Bev speaks up. Her mom is an actress. In Holly­wood. You probably heard of her, though she hasn’t appeared in much recently. Bev says she hates movies, Hollywood, celebrity, and the whole stupid thing, but you know what? She’s got the acting thing going on herself. Like right now, she strikes her Miss Defiant pose.


“You mean these phones?” Bev says, and holds up her phone. But she doesn’t hold it up in an act of submission. She holds it up so she can look at it.


And we know exactly what she’s looking at.


The iTime app. The one that caused all the trouble in the first place.


Brandon and I hold up our own phones, and we see the familiar five boxes. All filled in. day is 1. month is 7. And year is 1863.




Who set the iTime app for 1863?


The fourth box, time, is set at 11:00 a.m. And the last box, coordinates, says 38.8591° N, 77.0367° W.


The Submit button is at the bottom.


It’s crystal clear. We can hand our phones over to the professor, or press Submit.


And zoom off to 1863. Destination unknown.


It looks like we’re going to have about three seconds to decide this thing.


Make it two seconds.


Professor Moncrieff shouts, “NO, NOT AGAIN!”


Call it one second.


Mr. Hart shouts, “DON’T!”


But we’re modern kids. We ourselves have been sort of programmed. We even have T-shirts for moments like these.


Just do it.


So we do.

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