I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying Archer’s Quest, Linda Sue Park (2006, 167 pages). At the opening of the story Kevin is doing his homework at his desk in his room. His boredom comes to a sudden end when someone shoots his baseball cap off his head with an arrow, pinning it to the wall! His surprise visitor turns out to be Koh Chu-mong, ancient ruler of Korea, born in 55 B.C. Chu-mong was known for his amazing talent with a bow and arrow, as well as his skill as ruler.
Chu-mong feels a great responsibility to his people and wants to return to his own time. He doesn’t have a clue how to make that happen. Kevin is of Korean descent and uses the small knowledge he has about Korean history to try to find Chu-mong a way home. I liked how Kevin used his brain, drawing on resources in his college town such as the zoo and museum that he thought might be helpful. It is the last day of the year of the Tiger when Chu-mong finds himself in Kevin’s room in New York State. Chu-mong has to get back home before the year changes. All the action of this story takes place during only one day as Kevin tries different ideas to try to get Chu-mong back home.
Chu-mong’s reaction to objects of our time were LOL funny. I loved the scene where Kevin tries to call his grandmother (Ah-jee) on the phone but Chu-mong thinks Kevin is talking to him.
“Ah-jee, hold on for just one second, okay?”
“Sure thing, Kevin.”
“Hold on to what?” Archie said. Kevin put his hand over the mouthpiece. “Archer. I. Am. Not. Talking.To. You.” He spoke slowly, trying to force himself to be patient. “I’m talking to my grandparents.”
“Your grandparents?” Archie leapt to his feet and looked around the room.
“No, no!” Kevin said. Sheesh, the things he had to explain. “They don’t live here. I’m talking to them through-through this.”
Kevin also has to explain cars, the Internet, and glass.
Chu-mong is a unique character I will remember. He has great dignity, but also a sense of humor. He never “runs his mouth” but rather keeps in mind what is important and chooses his words carefully. He is a natural teacher, and teaches Kevin something about the physical as well as mental discipline of archery.
I liked the parts about archery. Although I hated archery in high school P.E., for some strange reason I have lately believed I would now love archery and have been wanting to give it another shot.
Archer’s Quest has my favorite kind of plot– one where the action is as much if not more about what is happening between the main characters, as in the world around them. I love this kind of writing– thoughtful, humorous without going for obvious jokes, with no wasted words. I can understand why this author won a Newberry award for another book (A Single Shard.)
Youtube interview with author about writing:
The visitors to our time in Frozen in Time, Ali Sparkes (2009, 312 pages) did not travel as far through time as Chu-mong did. Brother and sister Freddy and Polly were put into what some people call cryonic suspension in 1956. They were frozen in a vault within an elaborate bomb shelter which is actually a complete house underground. They are found and woken up in 2010 by brother and sister team Ben and Rachel, who at thirteen and twelve are about the same age as Freddy and Polly. Rachel and Ben live in the same house in the country that Polly and Freddy used to live in.
Conveniently, without any adult interference, Rachel and Ben are able to take the two kids from the past into their home to live. There are plenty of laughs for the reader as Ben and Rachel teach Freddy and Polly all about modern life. They introduce them to microwave ovens, computers, and junk food. As in Jason’s Miracle, which I reviewed in an earlier post, it was humorous to see the shock of people from an earlier time to everyday objects of our time. Of course, you don’t get this in most time travel books, since in most time travel stories the characters travel into the past. It’s fun to imagine being a guide to visitors from half a century ago.
Polly was accustomed to ironing her brother’s shirts. Rachel tries to stop Polly from washing her brother’s dinner dishes saying to her, “You must have missed the bit about Women’s Lib…But for now just remember this: girls are not here to serve boys!”. Yet, it’s still the boys that are more bold in this story, that get the lion’s share of adventures, and that try to save the girls toward the end of the story. This dynamic seemed dated to me. It felt to me like a book written in the 70’s, and when I checked the copyright I was shocked to see it was written in 2009! In addition to not really breaking out of gender stereotypes, I did not find the characters in this book overall particularly memorable.
Frozen in Time did not have my favorite kind of plot– I just have a bias against plots that include lengthy chase scenes, zany or otherwise. I admit I also have a bias, totally unfair, against books set in Great Britain that have many references to British places and foods with which I am unfamiliar. Ditto for the aspect of the story line about Russian spies.
The writing was a little wordy. My interest wandered a couple times in the 34 pages it took Rachel and Ben to unearth the duo. I wanted the tale to wrap up sooner than it did. Still, it’s a mostly fun story, and people being awakened from a state of cryonic suspension is a great premise for a time travel book.