Blast to the Past #5: Sacagawea’s Strength, by Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohon, (2006, 120 pages), is a pleasant brief time travel tale, for the youngest middle grade readers. The tone of it is a lot like that in books from the Magic Treehouse series. There are eight books in this series.
A common thread uniting the stories in this series is that four friends: third graders Abigail, Jacob, Zack, and Bo, travel back in time for short periods (like two hours!) in order to convince historical figures not to give up their important work. There is a villain who is travelling separately back in time, who is trying to convince the famous people from the past to quit. The four friends are given their missions by their teacher, who also lends them the time travel gadget.
In this book, the authors expand on historic fact to imagine that Sacagawea might have been tempted to ditch Lewis and Clark when the expedition party ran into her long-lost brother. The third graders have to discover what Sacagawea’s “dream” is in order to convince her to stay with the explorers. I won’t spoil this small surprise. Suffice to say it has something to do with the importance of maps. In fact, the class is initially engaged in mapping the creek behind their school, when their teacher presents the four with their Sacagawea mission. This book would be a good resource for young students doing a mapping project, as there is discussion in the book about the importance of maps in general.
There are several black and white drawings that enliven the book, and while I didn’t care for the Cabbage Patch Kids roundness of the children’s faces, I was glad the illustrations were there. Also, there was a simple author’s note on the historical facts on which the book was based which was very nice. This story was not hilarious, nor on-the-edge-of-your-seat suspenseful, so I don’t imagine it would be most students’ first choice of a book. But I think many students would enjoy it as a supplement to a unit of study on mapping or Lewis and Clark. I was pleased to learn a few facts about Sacagawea.
Since many time travel books spend much time on the mechanics of time travel, I thought it was cute in this book how swiftly it was accomplished, by jumping into a magic hole.
On the count of three we jumped and on four we landed. Because time travel is really fast.