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  Bookends: Dan Davidson

Adventures in the Ice Age

Reviewed: December 24, 2004
By: Linda Bailey / illustrated by Bill Slavin
Publisher: Kids Can Press
48 pages, $8.95

You'd think that by now the Binkerton children would have learned to be careful what they wish and what they touch when they go into Mr. Pettigrew's Good Times Travel Agency. It is a sweltering day and when the shop owner has nothing by lukewarm water to offer them, Emma makes the mistake of asking for ice. She and Josh aren't fast enough to stop Libby from touching one of Mr. Pettigrew's special guidebooks when he took it down from the shelf with the words "Did you say ... ice?"

Quick as a flash they find themselves dressed in furs, standing in the middle of a grassy plain in Europe about 20,000 years ago.

The way these trips work the kids have to survive the experience while they read the entire guide book. We get to read it too, since it is presented in book shaped sidebars at the bottoms of the pages.

How do they avoid getting trampled by giant deer and herds of bison? How do they find some people and make friends so they can get some food? How do they survive the weather, which seems to be getting colder the longer they stay there?

The kids have all heard about getting lost in a book, but Julian T. Pettigrew's little travel guides take the concept to extremes. They actually take you to the places they describe, and set tasks that must be completed before you can get home. The kids have to follow a hunt, find Art, and befriend a giant, all of which are a little mysterious, but quite possible in the area of southern France where they have been dumped by the magic flash. As the weather gets worse they also have to finish the book and get home before they freeze to death. This will help them to appreciate the heat later on.

The story is fiction, but all the information in the guidebook is real, so these adventures have a mix of the real and the unreal which makes for a good story. Bailey has a nice touch with a story, and Slavin's comic book style art is just great for this sort of tale.

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