Multiply today’s book review times two, times .5. (2 x .5) That is to say, it’s one review. Chalk it up to my kids now being out of school and wanting to be played with, and my dog always wanting to be walked. So I’m sure you’ll agree it has nothing to do with poor planning on my part, but rather is everyone else’s fault.
In The Princess in the Pigpen, Jane Resh Thomas (1989, 130 pages), the main character Elizabeth, is the daughter of the Duke of Umberland, advisor to the Queen, in 1600. (She’s technically not a princess. I guess the author just thought “Princess” was catchier than “daughter-of-a-duke”.) She falls ill and is sick in her fancy bed with her maid attending to her. Next thing she knows, she’s standing in a pig pen in Iowa in 1988! She is fortunate in that the pigpen belongs to a kind family, the McCormicks, who have a daughter about her age and who take Elizabeth in until her origin can be sorted out.
At first, Elizabeth is very confused about where she is. Then, for some time, no one believes she is a time traveler from 15th century England. But she eventually manages to convince the McCormicks’ daughter, Ann. The two girls want to get Elizabeth back to her own time, but how? They don’t know how she arrived. The urgency in the plot stems from the fact that Elizabeth’s mother is also deathly ill, and Elizabeth wants to bring some of the life-giving elixir penicillin back to save her.
This was a quick read, and a delightful story. The author does not dwell on the meta-physics of time travel much, which was fine with me. There’s a lot of humor that derives from Elizabeth, who is used to being waited on hand and foot, suddenly no longer receiving special treatment.
“I shall require a servant. Send me a maidservant to help me into bed. Or are you to be my maid?”
“We’re fresh out of maids, Lizzie,” said Ann with her nose in the air. “I’ll help you because you’re sick and crazy. But the Duke and Duchess had better pick you up pretty soon, or you’ll have to learn to wait on yourself.”
In addition, there are a lot of funny moments in which Elizabeth tries to make sense of machines and customs of the 21st century. Such moments seem to be typical in middle grade time travel stories when a time traveler from the past comes to our time, but they make me smile every time.