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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
The Time Travels of Annie Sesstry is a novel by Brenda Welburn. Imagine being named Ann Sesstry. Sound it out and connect it to parents who are historians and constantly dragging the family along to look into their family stories, their ancestry, and you’ll understand. That’s why Ann decided she preferred being called Annie. And, just turned thirteen and learning the new feelings of being a teenager, Annie isn’t too keen on spending every weekend visiting one historic site or graveyard after another. But what can a girl do? Her younger sister goes along, as does her cousin, but Annie wants to do something different – something normal teenagers do. At least she has her art. But this time, something unusual happens on their family history wanderings and Annie, along with her sister and her cousin, end up going back in time. What begins as an accident of sorts, one spurred by the three saying 'Sankofa' (which means go back and get it), instead of cheese for a group selfie shot, becomes a lesson on not only who they are in the twenty-first century, but how they arrived at where they are now. As one of their ancestors explains on their back-in-time journey, “You have to look back to understand and appreciate where you came from before you can figure out where you’re going.”
Brenda Welburn’s young adult novel, The Time Travels of Annie Sesstry: Sly As a Fox, is a clever and insightful journey in family history. The author uses stories from her own family’s past to create a marvelous and exciting adventure full of time travel, kidnappings, and portals that can lead anywhere, but hopefully back home again. The plot begins with the family’s preparation for another weekend jaunt to yet another historic site. Each young person is already well versed in their history, having taken so many of these so-called family vacations together. They share stories, learn more about their history and the younger three (including Annie) find a fascinating portal through time. The author is well versed in her history and American history and this is shared in an engaging and insightful tale that will have young readers enthralled right to the very end (and they might learn a thing or two along the way). Absolutely brilliant!