Adventures in Ancient China
Reviewed: September 30, 2008
By: Linda Bailey / art by Bill Slavin
Publisher: Kids Can Press
48 pages, $8.85
A typical adventure in the Good Times Travel Agency series begins with the
Binkerton kids going to see Julian T. Pettigrew at his agency offices. This
time they are drawn by the smell of the Chinese noodles he’s eating and
when they have a taste and express their love of all things Chinese, the eccentric
Mr. P. pulls down one his special books and, before they can tell him not to
open it, he has. J
osh and Emma, the twins, and little sister, Libby, find themselves in ancient
China with Emma holding the book.
On the cover it says “Open this book and your journey’s begun. Read
every word and your journey is done.” Since they’ve already gone
through this with books about ancient Egypt, Greece, the Middle Ages and the
Vikings, the kids know this means they have to get through the whole book (which
is shown to us on the bottom half of each page) and go through some pretty wild
adventures before they will end up back in the shop.
Fortunately the magic of the book altered their clothing and gave them the local
language, so they can get by, and the book is there to tell them how to behave.
As usual, however, one of them - Libby this time - gets separated from the others
and they have to find her, since they all have to be together when they get
to the end of the book.
Naturally enough, rescuing Libby gets them all into trouble and they find themselves
being chased by soldiers along the Great Wall and escaping to the other side
only to be confronted by the barbarians the Wall was built to keep out. The
only way to escape is to read faster, and then ... but that would be telling.
These books are a lot of fun as well as being informative. The final page always
contains a totally factual essay about the place the Binkertons have visited,
as well as a short index (odd in a story book, yes?) so young readers can go
back and check out the various factual topics covered along the way.