CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 18 . . . . January 15, 2016
In 2010, Andreas Oertel published The Archaeolojesters, about three kids from small town Manitoba who devise a brilliant plot to get their town, Sultana, onto the tourist map of the world and thus save it from extinction. They manufacture a clay tablet that, were it authentic, would show that the ancients Egyptians had managed to travel up the Mississippi and overland as far as Canada. The hoax succeeded beyond their wildest dreams; Sultana was saved, at least in the short term. Oertel then went on to write two other books, sequels to The Archaeolojesters, which were, respectively, called Pillars of Time and Trouble at Impact Lake. These two have been re-published with a different publisher, the first of them now being Stones of Time, and it has been extensively revised. The kids, instead of being rewarded for their initiative in producing this 'ancient artifact' with a trip to Egypt where they go back in time, are given 50 hours of community service, some of which they spend mowing the Sultana graveyard where they find some peculiar stones and – wait for it! – go back in time! The whole scenario works much better, and I heartily commend the revision.
Trouble at Impact Lake was not reviewed originally, but I suspect, from the identical title, that it has not changed significantly. Cody and Eric are about to set off on a fishing expedition to a nearby lake when they encounter some official people who seem to have the idea of transforming the old air force training base on Impact Lake into an historical site. The boys are interested, of course – something more to keep Sultana from turning into a ghost town – but something about the divers in particular seems a bit fishy. Their equipment is too shiny new, and they seem more interested in the legend of the mad trapper as well as being less knowledgeable about the base than they should be. Consequently, the boys and Rachel decide to investigate and have several adventures, including being trapped under a canoe by a bear and meeting the 'mad trapper'. Eventually they do find out what exactly was going on. Everyone was relieved to learn that it is the divers who are fakes; the official is real and looking at the base with an eye to making it an historical site, as the kids had hoped. Implausible, yes, but fun, and just realistic enough to allow a reader to believe in what's going on.
Oertel has a good ear for dialogue. The conversations among the three ring true, and motivations for their actions arise naturally and logically from their research (on line, most of it) and deductions. Their characters are stereotypical in many ways – Eric is always hungry and sleepy; Rachel is the intellectual of the group; Cody is the man of ideas and action – but they act as one would expect them to in the situations that arise. Essentially it all works well, and the result is a book that keeps the reader's interest and is informative without being preachy. I liked it, in other words!
I do think that the verso of the title page should have mentioned the previous publications as well as the brand new copyright date and the original publisher. However, the worst thing that can happen is that a school might buy a second copy of a book that it might well like to have a second copy of anyway; so no real harm done.
Mary Thomas lives in Winnipeg and works from time to time, and when she's lucky, in school libraries.
To comment on this title or this review, send mail to email@example.com.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.