Newsletter, Volume 14, Number 5

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This issue contains news and an excerpt from In Times Past: Integrating US History with Literature In Grades 3-8. In Times Past is an eBook written by Carol Otis Hurst and Rebecca Otis. This excerpt is from the third edition.

This particular section is on time travel fantasies and covers some picture books as well as novels. If you are interested in learning more about this eBook or in reading more sample chapters see:



Booklist magazine has a timely article online recommending books about job loss, Hope in Tight Times.

Time Fantasies

Time fantasies are literary favorites for many. In addition to being very good reading, they can become a vehicle for learning about history in at least two ways.

First, the action of a time fantasy usually involves a trip backward in time. The individual making the time trip often has to use knowledge of history to ascertain the time in which he/she has landed. While in the past, the character and the reader often learn about that historical period through the actions, observations, and dialogues in the story.

Second, the idea of time fantasy can help students approach history from a more personal perspective. What if you were transported to Ford's Theater on the night of Lincoln's assassination? Would you have tried to stop it? How would history have changed if the assassination had not occurred? What if you were a television reporter suddenly transported with your technology to Ford's Theater directly after the shots were fired? Whom would you interview? What could they tell you?

Such an approach can become an extensive writing activity in which students, after reading time fantasies, become authors of their own such fantasies, sending characters back in time to a period and place that interests the students. The amount of research necessary to make such stories interesting is considerable and can involve a search for details and an understanding of the period much more complete than that usually gained by students.

The time fantasy device can become a play involving the whole class in research of the same period and place, as well as in producing the drama for audiences. It can also become a guessing game in which one student is transported back in time. Other students create clues to help her/him decide where and when she/he is.

We have listed several time fantasies below. Many concern English history rather than US history. Not all of them are of equal literary merit, but it is important to have books of several reading levels available, and all of these contain information or ideas for student writing and research.

Books of Time Fantasy

Picture Books

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Dragonwagon, Crescent. Home Place. Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. (Bound to Stay Bound, 1999 ISBN 0785713980. Order Info.)
A family of today discovers a patch of daffodils in the woods and gets a vision of the family that once lived there.

Fleischman, Paul. Time Train (San Val, 1999 ISBN 0785723005. Order Info.)
A teacher and her class intend to travel to Utah to learn about dinosaurs. They get on the wrong train and are soon zooming back in time.

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Chapter Books

Scieszka, Jon. Knights of the Kitchen Table Illustrated by Lane Smith (Viking, 1999 ISBN 0670836222. Order Info.).
This is the first in a series of books in which Joe, Fred and Sam are transported in time to various locales.


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Grades 4 and up
Babbitt, Natalie. Tuck Everlasting (Farrar, 1986. ISBN 0374480095. Order Info.)
Although not a time fantasy in the usual sense, this exquisite novel in which a family unwittingly and quite tragically becomes immortal is included here because of its portrayal of the cycles of life as inevitable and right.

Grades 4 and up
Bellairs, John. Trolley to Yesterday (Puffin, 1998 ISBN 0141300922. Order Info.)
This is just one in a series of books by Bellairs involving time travel.

Grades 4 and up
Boston, Lucy. The Children of Green Knowe (Odyssey, 2002 ISBN 0152024689. Order Info.)
This is one of several novels in which children at the old house called Green Knowe are transported back three generations.

Grades 4 and up
Conrad, Pam. Stonewords: a Ghost Story (HarperTrophy, 1991 ISBN 0064403548. Order Info.)
Two girls, living a hundred years apart, become friends across time. Each is a ghost to the other.

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Grades 5 and up
Cooper, Susan. The Dark Is Rising (Aladdin, 1999 ISBN 0689829833. Order Info.)
This is the first in a series about children traveling back and forth in time in order to conquer the impending evil.

Grades 4 and up
Fleischman, Sid. The 13th Floor illustrated by Peter Sis (Yearling, 1997 ISBN 0440412439. Order Info.)
This very funny short novel draws a boy and his sister 300 years back in the past to the Salem witch trials.

Grades 4 and up
Hahn, Mary Downing. Time for Andrew: A Ghost Story (Avon, 1995 ISBN 0380724693. Order Info.)
A boy, living with his great aunt and uncle in an old house, is first visited by and later transported to the time of a boy who lived and died there long ago.

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Grades 6 and up
Hamilton, Virginia. Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush (Avon, 2001 ISBN 0380651939. Order Info.)
Teresa meets a pleasant young man called Brother Rush. Gradually she learns that he is the ghost of her motherís brother and bears a family secret.

Grades 5 and up
Hurmence, Belinda. A Girl Called Boy (Clarion, 1990 ISBN 0395556988. Order Info.)
An African American girl of today is transported back to the time of slavery where she masquerades as a boy in order to survive.

Grades 6 and up
LíEngle, Madeleine. Acceptable Time (Dell, 1997 ISBN 0440208149. Order Info.)
Descendants of the children who first appeared in A Wrinkle in Time are transported back 3000 years.

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Grades 4 and up
Lunn, Janet. The Root Cellar (Puffin, 1996 ISBN 0140380361. Order Info.)
Rose is deposited with distant relatives in Canada. From there she is able to go through a root cellar into the period of the American Civil War. This is a Focus Book (in the Focus Book section of In Times Past).

Grades 5 and up
Pearce, Philippa. Tom's Midnight Garden (Bound to Stay Bound, 1999 ISBN 0833590928. Order Info.)
A boy is brought to stay with relatives in a London flat. He discovers a garden behind the house that only appears at midnight. There he forms a friendship with a girl from the past.

Grades 4 and up
Sauer, Julia. Fog Magic (Puffin, 1986. ISBN 0140321632. Order Info.)
The time traveler is a girl from Nova Scotia who reaches the fishing village of Blue Cove only through the fog.

Grades 4 and up
Yolen. Jane. The Devil's Arithmetic (Puffin, 1990 ISBN 0140345353. Order Info.)
A present-day Jewish child, unaware of and disparaging of her heritage, is transported in time to a Polish village in the days of the Holocaust.


Recommendations added since the publication of the eBook In Times Past:

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Bauer, Marion Dane. Illustrated by Suling Wang. The Blue Ghost. (2005, Random. ISBN 9780375833397. Order Info.) Chapter Book. 96 pages. Gr 2-4.

Liz is caught in something of a mystery. What does this ethereal ghost figure want from her? Why is she being transported back to the 1880's in Minnesota? What do these people from the past need from her? What do they have to do with her contemporary life?

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Gutman, Dan. Abner and Me: A Baseball Card Adventure. (2005, HarperCollins. ISBN 9780060534431. Order Info.) Novel. 176 pages. Gr 5-8.

Stosh can travel through time when he holds a baseball card. This is the sixth book in the series. When Stosh travels to Abner Doubleday's time he and his mom are surprised to find themselves in the middle of the Battle of Gettysburg.

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Stanley, Diane. Illustrated by Holly Berry. Thanksgiving on Plymouth Plantation. (2004, HarperCollins. ISBN 9780060270698. Order Info.) Picture Book. 48 pages. Gr K-3.

This volume in the Time-Traveling Twins series takes Liz and Lenny back to what became known as the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts in 1621. The homes and lifestyle of the English settlement are explored in a warm and energetic story.

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Stanley, Diane. Illustrated by Holly Berry. Joining the Boston Tea Party. (2001, HarperCollins. ISBN 9780060270674. Order Info.) Picture Book. 48 pages. Gr K-3.

This is the second in the Time-Traveling Twins series by the same author-illustrator team. There is the same successful combination of historical information with playful cartoon-like illustrations. This time the twins and their energetic grandmother find themselves participating in the 1773 tax protest in Boston which played such a central roll in the American Revolution.

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Stanley, Diane. Illustrated by Holly Berry. Roughing It on the Oregon Trail. (2001, HarperCollins. ISBN 9780064490061. Order Info.) Picture Book. 48 pages. Gr K-3.

First in the Time-Traveling Twins series this lighthearted but information packed picture book introduces Liz and Lenny, their eccentric grandmother and her dog, Moose. With the help of a magic hat they find themselves on the Oregon Trail during the mass migration to the American West.


You can find out more about US History and kids' books on our website at:

You can find out more about the eBook In Times Past: Integrating US History with Literature in Grades 3-8 at:


Happy reading!

Rebecca Otis

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In Times Past
an eBook
by Carol Hurst and Rebecca Otis

Integrating US History with Literature in Grades 3-8.

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Enliven your US History curriculum!

Teach US History using great kids books.

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By Carol Otis Hurst!!

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Rocks in His Head.

Pick up your copy of Carol's Award Winning Picture Book!

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