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Reviewed by Geoff Habiger for Readers' Favorite
The Tunnel of Time by Jeannie Chambers is the story of Gracie, Lizzie, and Reba Dee, three sisters who are about to get on the “Tunnel of Time” ride at the county fair. The ride is a small train that travels through an abandoned tunnel in the Blue Ridge Mountains and makes several stops at history dioramas. At each stop, automatons dressed as famous people explain who they are and what they are famous for. The train moves along through the first two stations on the ride, and that’s when the accident happens and the car the three girls are in breaks away from the rest of the train, leaving the girls alone in the dark tunnel. Gracie decides that they need to find an exit so they can leave the tunnel and find their parents. As they approach the next stop, featuring a diorama of Elias Howe and Isaac Singer, they see the exit. But instead of taking them to the fairgrounds outside, the girls are magically transported to the late 1800s, where they encounter the real Howe and Singer! The encounter doesn’t last long, and the girls are soon back in the tunnel. The sisters continue to try different exits, hoping to get out of the tunnel, and are again and again transported to the world of the person featured in the diorama, giving the three sisters a unique view of history.
I enjoyed this clever book and loved the characters of Gracie, Lizzie, and Reba Dee. I have three sisters myself and Jeannie Chambers captures the friendship, bickering, and love that all sisters share. The Tunnel of Time is a wonderful mix of adventure and learning as the encounters the girls have with the different figures from history allow the reader to get a brief understanding of these famous people. The people the girls meet include famous inventors, like Howe and Singer, Alexander Graham Bell, and Thomas Edison. But Chambers also includes important figures such as Helen Keller, George Washington Carver, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Dian Fossey. This is a wonderful mix of historical people for the girls, and thus the reader, to meet and get to know. I really loved the inclusion of Dr. King and Dian Fossey, who were leaders in civil rights and animal conservation. Their inclusion makes the encounters more than just about bringing old history to life, but serves to shine a light on important events that continue to shape our world.
The book is wonderfully laid out and ideal for children to pick up and read on their own or with a parent. The chapters are short and this makes it easy for children just starting to read chapter books to be able to pick up and enjoy The Tunnel of Time. And the encounters with the historical figures are entertaining, sneaking in some learning for the reader. I learned a few things I didn’t know. If you or your children enjoy fun and creative ways to learn about history, then I recommend that you pick up a copy of this wonderful book by Jeannie Chambers.