HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Travel to Tomorrow: Fifties Chix Book 1
Author: Angela Sage Larsen
Illustrator: Astrid Sheckels
Publisher: FastPencil Premiere, 2011
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 11 – 13
Rating: **** 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Larsen, Angela Sage. Travel to Tomorrow: Fifties Chix Book 1 (published in 2011 by Premiere, 3131 Bascom Ave., Suite 150, Campbell, CA 95008). It is 1955 and tomboy Beverly Jenkins, African-American Maxine Marshall, high-spirited Judy White, studious Mary Donovan, and Yugoslav immigrant Ann Branislav, are all students at Roosevelt High in St. Louis, MO. In addition to their school work, they all have their challenging situations at home. Beverly has four brothers. Maxine’s family has experienced racial prejudice. Judy’s father was killed in the Korean conflict. Mary’s dad just up and split. And Ann lives in near poverty. They all become friends when their Social Studies teacher Miss Boggs gives them an end of term class assignment to predict life in the future. But they wake up next morning and find that they have time-traveled into a parallel universe to the 21st century! Were they right in their predictions? How will they cope with life in the future? And will they ever get back to their own time?
As the series title suggests, this book would be considered young adult “chick lit” and would undoubtedly be of more interest to teen girls than boys. However, when I met author Angela Sage Larsen at a homeschooling conference where she was exhibiting a couple of years ago, the concept sounded intriguing, so I bought the book. Some families might want to know that there are a couple of references to smoking a pipe and cigarettes, along with a number of common euphemisms (gee, darn, golly, heck, drat, dang, and even an OMG). Someone is said to cuss, but no actual cusswords are used. Mention is made of “backseat bingo” (necking or making out, by adults no less), along with a veiled reference to illegitimacy. And a requisite school dance occurs. The thing that a lot of parents whom I know would not care too much for is the emphasis on the girls’ boy-craziness with typical public school dating and going steady situations. Remember, though, that this is “chick lit,” so I guess that is to be expected.
However, the story is generally wholesome. It should be very interesting for young readers to see some of the differences between 1955 and 2010, and to consider the important historical factors included in the account. Certainly, many of the changes are for the better, but perhaps not necessarily all. In the back a glossary of 1950s terms and historical tidbits for the benefit of modern kids can be found. It is a little difficult to figure out the exact age of the girls, but since Bev’s older brothers Bob and Gary are a sophomore and a junior respectively, I conclude that the five are freshmen. Some of the action is carried along by occasional diary entries or letters written by the girls, which helps to give it a more personal touch. Besides the items mentioned in the previous paragraph, I did not care for a few other things, but they are mostly matters of personal taste rather than major objections. I did think that the ending is rather abrupt, but it’s obviously intended to set the stage for the sequel, Keeping Secrets. The subsequent books in the series are Third Time’s a Charm, Broken Record, and Till the End of Time.