A mysterious talisman transports a boy back to ancient Italy
No one ever listens to Hector. He wanted to hang out with his friends this summer, but instead he's stuck in Italy at an archaeological dig with his mom. The ancient Etruscan artifacts are interesting, but no one has time for him.
Then he makes a discovery of his own-a strange, unsettling stone that looks like an eye. The stone brings nightmares about Arath, an Etruscan boy who died thousands of years ago but now begs for Hector's help. Are these just dreams, or is Arath really in danger? As Hector unearths the truth, he realizes that he can make himself heard when it counts.
Eleven-year-old Hector, spending the summer with his archaeologist
mother at a dig near Florence, unearths a strange eye-shaped stone at
the site of what was once an Etruscan village. The artifact brings on
nightmares about Arath, who lived two thousand years ago and was in
terrible danger. The stone transports both boys back and forth into each
other's time. In Etruscan time, "Heck," invisible to everyone but
Arath, is horrified to learn that the boy is to become a human sacrifice
at the hands of a cruel relative. The story of how Hector works to foil
the plot in the past and to make a remarkable discovery in the present,
based on knowledge gleaned from his other-life experience, is
fast-paced and suspenseful. The author imbues her fantasy with
plausibility and peppers the text with fascinating shards of ancient
history and archeology. A good read appended with an author's note and
Etruscan-English and Italian-English glossaries.
Through terrifying time-warp trips between now and then, [Hector] meets
and tries to save a young boy from possible execution. . . . Hector's
frustration about being "invisible" to grown-ups will reverberate with
most kids, and Barrett's vivid details, particularly the day-to-day work
of archaeologists, will capture readers interested in ancient civilizations. Appended material includes an author's note explaining more about Etruscan life, as well as Etruscan and Italian glossaries.
Barrett's accurate description of the archaeological dig and the details
of Etruscan daily life are well researched and interesting. The plot holds excitement and suspense
as readers wonder if Hector will find a way to save his friend. While
reluctant readers may find the Italian and Etruscan words and phrases
difficult to field, a glossary of terms for each language is appended.
This is a good choice for kids who are interested in time travel or
— School Library Journal
This time travel story . . . encompasses not only the excitement of
going back in time but also covers a great deal of personal drama as
well. Barrett keeps the plot moving briskly along and never removes the
shadow of uncertainty and danger from her story. She also throws in the
very real frustration that most kids have who tell adults what is going
in their lives only to ignored or even worse, disbelieved.
. . . [The] entire issue of time travel is handled and explained
quite well and Barrett follows-up her story with a nice little Afterword
about the Etruscan people. (I love it when authors take the time to do
that.) Hector learns a lot about himself and what it means to make
yourself heard and he strikes a decent blow for kids everywhere who are
afraid to speak their minds. It's all very well done and interesting as
well. . .
Tracy Barrett has crafted a nice little adventure story with a male
protagonist in an exotic location that involves time travel, danger and a
lot of quick thinking. She has written, in essence, the perfect book for middle-grade boys.
By moving back and forth in time, Hector not only learns all about the
customs, clothing, and food of the time, but he is also able to save the
life of Arath. Hector also learns a lot about himself and gains respect
among the adults at the dig. The story is very gripping.
— The Lorgnette
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