Reviews for the Shadows from the Past series
"Author Wendy Leighton-Porter’s Shadows from the Past children’s series is an outstanding collection of books that would make an excellent addition to any home or school library. Written in an engaging style with characters that will have great appeal to young readers, this page-turning collection will be as enticing to avid book enthusiasts as it will be for reluctant readers."
CHILDREN'S LITERARY CLASSICS BOOK AWARDS
"I admire your books so much I wanted to send a review of more than just an individual book. I wanted to review the series. Joe and Jemima Lancelot, ten-year-old twins, have recently come to live with their Uncle Richard in London after the sudden disappearance of their parents. With the help of Jemima's cat, Max, the children learn that their parents were victims of a time traveling accident and have become lost in the past. The only way for them to have a chance to get back to the present is for Joe and Jemima to travel into the past and bring them a special key that allows them to be transported home. With the help of their friend and neighbor, Charlie, and Jemima's large Tonkinese cat Max, they travel through the past, searching for their parents and giving history the chance of a do-over. The Shadows From The Past series is perfect for a rainy day and a must-have for a child's shelves! The author writes her stories in such a way that children love reading them, yet, they aren't too immature for the older reader. These books are perfect for the advanced reader that feels most middle-grade books are beneath them. At the same time, the author keeps her stories simple to understand for the more average reader, so as to build confidence and encourage the child to expand their reading skills. These books are perfect for a child reluctant to learn history, myths, and legends, as the stories are so well written, they don't even know that they are learning. Even the explanations at the end of the book, separating fact from fiction is done in such an engaging manner, that it should whet the history appetite in even the most reluctant student. The author's characters are so real that the reader is drawn into the pages, standing beside Joe, Jemima, Charlie, and Max, fighting against/with historical, mythical and legendary beings. It really is like traveling through time to the past. So grab a Shadows From The Past book and curl up with some biscuits and a hot cup of tea and be prepared for an adventure of a lifetime with Joe, Jemima, Max, and Charlie traveling back in time to the past."
ALYSSA ELMORE for READERS' FAVORITE BOOK REVIEWS, USA
"My daughter Amélie is 9 years old ... Her main choices are modern classic literature like Swallows & Amazons, CS Lewis books, Little Women and similar ... I was slightly hesitant when she found your books on Amazon (not being of her usual genre) and started to plough through them. However, having read a little, I am also delighted. I am by no means a literature buff, but your stories seem to me, as a complete amateur, to be written in good literary language, with exciting adventures that appeal to the children of the modern culture, whilst not compromising on writing style. The fact that they include historical facts, is a bonus.
With Amélie, I can see in action the achievement of your objectives for your books; good literature, good stories and a terrific vehicle for encouraging interest and enthusiasm in historical events. You have truly encouraged Amélie on her journey to becoming an enthusiastic and prolific reader. She can't wait for all the forthcoming books! I wanted you to know that her overriding feeling of your books is one of delight and thorough enjoyment; she is sitting beside me as I type this, reading 'Shadow of Camelot'. When she is older, your books will no doubt be ones she remembers from her childhood as 'old favourites'.
Thank you again and best wishes for many future books (please!)."
CHRIS PRIESTMAN, Amélie's mother
"My 10 year old daughter is hooked.
Parents - if you are looking for contemporary literature, with exciting and educational content, that is well written and will inspire your children, download the
Shadows series (and any spin offs) onto your children's Kindles and sit back and watch them disappear for a couple of hours.
I have been careful about making, in the main, only classical literature available for my daughter and was a little hesitant when she found this series on Amazon, for Kindle.
However, I have found that the calculated exposure to well written literature has resulted in her discerning good and less well written prose. She has found great contemporary literature in this series and is badgering the author for the next book...sorry, Wendy!
My daughter informs me that alongside CS Lewis, Laura Ingalls Wilder, E Nesbit, Michael Morpurgo, the author of How To Train Your Dragon (whose name I can't recall - Cressida Cowell?) and the author of The Silver Sword, Wendy Leighton Porter is one of her most favourite authors. She is chomping at the bit for The Shadow of the Two Princes.
Kids - Read these exciting adventure books..you're going to love them."
MR S. PRIESTMAN, parent, Hampshire
"I make no apology for sounding clichéd - but I love your books. Naturally I especially love Max ... "
LINDA VOUSDEN, Breeder of Tonkinese cats, Berkshire
Reviews for The Shadow Of Atlantis
"The Shadow of Atlantis is a work of children’s fiction by author Wendy Leighton-Porter, and the opening novel to the Shadows from the Past series of historical-time-travel and adventure-mystery novels. The first epic adventure introduces us to the central characters, a pair of ten year old twins called Joe and Jemima, their next door neighbour Charlie and an adorable superstar cat called Max. As an old book unfolds its wisdom to them, and the mystery of the twins’ missing parents leads them into a time travelling adventure in Atlantis, so begins a fantastic journey of discovery and excitement.
I read a lot of Narnia as a kid, and there is something terribly nostalgic, wholesome and truly thrilling that smacks of C. S. Lewis in the works of Wendy Leighton-Porter. The trio of dutiful and adventurous kids set the pace for a novel that is both wonderfully educational and also immersive and exploratory to totally cinematic proportions, and though it’s a different genre entirely, this series opener feels like it has that same epic scale as Narnia did, for infinite adventure and deep growth in its heroes. I liked the sensitivity that was in place not just for the main characters, but all characters, including the attitude of the people of Atlantis when the kids first arrive. It was also a true joy to read work by a fellow British writer, who captures that charming and sometimes ineffectual British exclamation and haplessness so beautifully. As a cat lover, I quickly became obsessed with Max the Tonkinese, who is so much more than just a token cutie as the story unfolds.
Overall, I feel this was a great start to an engaging series which will give its middle grade reading age plenty to question and enjoy as they continue their adventures. I can’t wait to read more!"
K. C. FINN, author
"My daughter, who is 6, absolutely loved this book. She reads way above level, and it's hard to find books for her that are age appropriate that hold her interest. This is definitely a hit! She said she loved it because of the adventures in the past coming to life. I did not personally read this book, but since she begged and begged to get more in the series, I can say it's a hit. She has three other books in this series right now. When she finishes them, she'll get the other four, as there are only 8 in this series at this time. I hope this author continues to write more books like this, as my daughter will be very disappointed when this series is finished!"
KRISTIN BARKMAN, parent, USA
"This is the first in the Shadows from the
Past series of books, in which Jemima (good name!) and Joe, friend Charlie and cat Max travel back in time to various exciting events in the past, by means of a strange book they find
in their attic.
Not surprisingly, given the title, the first trip takes them to Atlantis. They remember reading about its disappearance from the face of the earth, assumed to be due to a natural disaster, and persuade the friends they make there that it is a really good time to emigrate. Naturally, the priests at the temple don’t take kindly to strangely dressed foreigners telling their people to leave, so some shenanigans go on which allows the author to delve even deeper into the historical elements of early civilisations.
Wait, I hear you say, how come they can magically speak the language of ancient civilisations? I really love the simplicity with which Ms Leighton-Porter solves this one, once and for all the books. I was pleased to see that it works for the cat too, allowing Max to take a full role in these stories (and what a cat he is!)
Although the story is in itself an interesting and enjoyable adventure, there is the overarching theme of the search for Jemima and Joe’s parents, who disappeared one day. They also went exploring using the strange book – but didn’t know about the translation device, and through another simple mistake are trapped wherever they last went. There is plenty of scope for Ms Leighton-Porter to take us through a raft of ancient civilisations in the search for them, and I am looking forward to the journey."
"A wonderful adventure: Ten-year-old twins Joe and Jemima Lancelot get the shock of their lives when their parents disappear without a trace and with no explanation. The only clues are a mysterious old book that had belonged to their father and a piece of jewellery belonging to their mother ... something she always wore. The only witness to part of their disappearance is Max, their unusually talented Tonkinese cat. Months pass with no further information, and so the twins begin a new life with their Uncle Richard, a professor of archaeology. Although he hasn't any kids of his own and isn't very good at parenting, luckily his wonderful housekeeper, Mrs. Garland, makes the twins feel at home. Uncle Richard said Max (short for Maximus) could stay too, so, apart from deep sadness about their parents, the twins settle into a new routine. Charlie Green, the shy boy next door, soon becomes their best friend.
One rainy day, the twins decide to look at their father's old book. In an amazing magical moment, they manage to open the book and, accompanied by Charlie and Max, are transported to the lost city of Atlantis. They befriend a kind family but the disaster facing the city soon becomes their problem. The trouble is, only a few people believe their warnings. Can they escape dangerous enemies, save the city, and get back to their own world before it's too late? And where are their parents?
I loved this story. The kids are all clearly defined, and bring their own thoughts and personalities to this well-paced adventure: Joe always daring and often impetuous; Charlie a little hesitant but getting braver; and Jemima, sensitive and perceptive. Max is a unique character all on his own: wise beyond his years, observant, and alert to any hint of danger. He adds a lovely touch of humour with his cryptic comments. Wonderful descriptions bring the past to life and create a sense of otherworldliness mixed with reality. The story of Atlantis is one of those incredible mysteries that people aren't quite sure is true or not. I'm a firm believer and I really enjoyed how much authentic detail the author includes in describing the history and legends of Atlantis and its origins. Greek mythology interweaves nicely with the story and makes for easy and interesting learning for young readers. This book is the start of a series that takes Joe and Jemima on new and exciting adventures into the ancient world. Highly recommended."
FIONA INGRAM, author
"We are always on the lookout for educational. exciting and entertaining books for our younger two children and that's exactly what we found in "The Shadow of Atlantis", the debut novel from Wendy Leighton-Porter...
Wendy Leighton-Porter makes an excellent job of entertaining while educating, making the legend of Atlantis a story that preteens can understand and enjoy. I was always a fan of myths and legends as a child and this is the first book I have found for this age group that shares these stories at a level they can appreciate and take pleasure in.
We read this to our daughter over a series of evenings & every night she was eager to find out what happened next - as were we! We will certainly be reading the next books in the series and can't wait for Wendy Leighton-Porter to write more. I thoroughly recommend The Shadow of Atlantis for both children & their parents. The next 5 books in the series are already on our Christmas list - if we can wait that long!"
THE WORLD OF CONTEST PATTI
"This book caught my interest from the first chapter and never let me go. The introduction of the main characters comes with a mystery: what happened to their parents, who mysteriously vanished? Are they dead, as the kids’ uncle would have them believe, or is there more behind the mystery? As the reader, you are privy to a little bit of information that the protagonists don’t have, which hints at the fate of the parents, but even then you don’t know exactly what happened or where they might be. Spoiler: at the end of the book, you still don’t know! I don’t know whether to be frustrated over loose ends or excited to pick up the second book.
Actually, I do know. I am excited to get the second book because this was a great story. The writing in it was excellent, pacing through the wonder and excitement of visiting a lost culture without getting too caught up in the details. Mixing in tidbits of mystery and intrigue to keep the reader, and characters in the book, guessing along the way. Brief scenes of action to supplement the story, adding excitement and adventure. There is a harmony between these three elements that delivers an excellent book...
Trust me, you’ll devour this book like I did and be left wanting more. Step back into time with the Shadow of Atlantis and embark on an intriguing adventure."
DAVID WILEY, USA
"The Shadow of Atlantis is a thrilling adventure with hidden clues and a magical book that takes Joe, Jemima, Charlie and their cat, Max on a wild ride to the Lost
City of Atlantis. Readers will be captivated by the vivid detail of the lost city and moved by the children's quest to save the people of Atlantis before disaster strikes...
The story is well written and brimming with activity. I was hooked from page one and felt myself being instantly drawn in. I was anxious to discover all that awaited the children on their quest and feared for their safety with evil lurking in the shadows.
I highly recommend picking up The Shadow of Atlantis as well as the rest of the books in the series. You will not be disappointed"
STACIE THEIS, BeachBoundBooks, San Diego, California
"This is the kind of book I loved to read as a child- full of dusty attics and ancient mystery. Ms. Leighton Porter does an excellent job of keeping the pace of the adventure urgent but not too scary or stressful for her young readers. The characters are easy to identify with. The siblings banter with each other and are curious, fun loving 10 year olds. Parents and Kids will appreciate the humor that comes from Max the talking Cat. There are references to well known mythological stories and includes information about the ancient Greeks and the possible location of the Island of Atlantis. I generally read books myself before introducing them to my kids. For this reason I have just begun to read this book aloud with our older daughter. As a Cat lover and mythology fan, She is hooked."
PIWI PRINCESS, USA
"This was a fun story. From the very start, I felt connected to the characters, understanding their feelings, desires, relationships. The author writes with an ease
that made the world building, characters and story flow.
The story is clear and precise, balancing the development of the world, the plot and the characters. I never felt a moment of confusion (even with the suspension of belief) or wish for more depth. The author seamlessly blended modern children into an ancient civilization...
This is a nice story that combines adventure, mythology, and friendship. It tells the tale of friendship, using each other's talents and skills, and being brave despite rough circumstances... And that adventure can happen when you least expect it."
"This is a fabulous fantasy for middle graders. I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Shadow of Atlantis, it was a lot of fun and very intriguing. Being the first in the series, it set all the wheels in motion and I would love to read the next to find out what the children and Max get up to. I really love the aspect of the talking cat, it makes everything even more interesting. The writing style was great also...
... This adventure filled with mystery, fun and excitement will keep you hooked to the pages and wanting more. This fantastic series will certainly be a winner with middle graders, being able to relate to the curiosity and the loyalty of friends. The Shadow of Atlantis is followed by The Shadow of the Minotaur, go ahead and check out the series."
KATIE TURNER, Australia
"What do you get when you cross missing parents, a mysterious book, curious children, a talking cat and an ancient possibly mythical setting? "The Shadow of Atlantis," a fun action-packed time travel novel in Wendy Leighton-Porter's Shadows from the Past series...
Leighton-Porter delivers a well-written middle grade novel peppering the plot with interesting historical details without bogging down the story. She creates likeable characters that are not perfect, and she moves the story along at a good pace. I found the book entertaining as an adult and believe it also has enough magical elements (for instance, the cat) to keep kids reading. The author manages to make learning about history fun."
VALERIE ORMOND, USA
"I like this book because it is adventurous, descriptive and exciting. I can imagine everything that the author is describing. I think this is one of the best books I have read in my life. It is even as good as 'Harry Potter'! I can't wait to read the others!"
EVIE PERFECT, aged 8
"I have always been fascinated by the legend of Atlantis and I love this version of it. I read this story to my 7 year old and both she and I loved it. Wendy Leighton-Porter has a true gift of taking a legend and creating a story that keeps you gripped from start to end."
"I first came across Wendy Leighton-Porter’s books for young adults when I read The Shadow of the Volcano, set in Pompeii and one of the Shadow of the Past
Consequently, I was eager to read the first book of the series, The Shadow of Atlantis to find out how it all came about! It did not disappoint. I am impressed with both the style of writing and also the content. The writer does not talk down to her young readers but is able to engage them on the fantasy journeys where there’s lots of adventures and a happy ending. Although, alas in The Shadow of Atlantis the parents of the twins and the reason for the series, are still lost in the past but they are alive!
So here we have Joe and Jemina, their friend, Charlie and the lovable talking cat, Max transported back in time to the legendary Atlantis where they begin their quest to find their missing parents. The existence of Atlantis has never been proven but perhaps if it did disappear beneath the waves, this might be a sobering lesson for today’s young readers to ponder upon. After all, the challenges and possible effects of global warming and consequent flooding on a massive scale will be the world these young people inherit.
Perhaps it is no accident that the writer commenced her stories in the lost city of Atlantis. It is my opinion that the Shadows of the Past series explore the Ancient World in a delightful and very readable way. History is not dull when you read Wendy Leighton-Porter’s books. Indeed, her Atlantean family in the Shadow of Atlantis escape to Crete and I am eager to meet up with the children…and Max, of course, in the next book of the series, The Shadow of the Minotaur. I am sure I won’t be disappointed. Books for young and the not so young. Long may the series continue!"
IONA CARROLL, author, Scotland
"A perfect read for that young reader who may shy from reading. Lots of adventure, talking cat, the legend of Atlantis, likeable characters, and of course, the evil doers! Loved this for its fast pace and tight plot."
CHERYL CARPINELLO, author, USA
"This is a wonderful book; full of excitement and adventure, and history, although the kids might not realise this as they're reading along, immersed in the action,
and that just makes it all the more brilliant.
The story follows twins Joe and Jemima as they go on an adventure through time to find their lost parents.
This story will draw any young reader in, will keep them entertained and engaged. It is sometimes hard to find books that will keep children interested, often their subject matter is trivial and insubstantial - this is not true of The Shadow of Atlantis.
My daughter can't wait for the next adventure."
ANNALIESE MATHERON, author
"When I read the preview I just had to find out what happened next! I knew that this book would be a real hit with my friend's children and I was not disappointed - they loved it! They are already asking 'when is the next book coming out?' and are desperate to know more about Max and the children's adventures. This book has sparked their interest and they are full of questions about Atlantis - 'Wow, did it really exist?'. This book really captures the imagination, it's fun, interesting and educational. It's perfect for able readers or for children who need to widen their vocabulary - without realising that they are being stretched :) - but also I think it would be great as a bed-time story, lots of opportunity for different voices! I thoroughly recommend it."
"Shadow of Atlantis is an imaginative tale that will draw children in right from the get go. The characters are deftly and warmly established, and Wendy shows a sure touch in enabling these characters to interact in a fun but believable fashion, each playing their own part in the plot's development. This adventurous book will appeal to boys and girls alike (and even cat-lovers; but no spoilers!) A most promising debut from this up-and-coming children's author."
JOHN CLEWARTH, author
"There are few books that I remember from my childhood - probably because I devoured our local library like a hungry dinosaur and read almost anything I could lay my
hands on. But a few special writers stay with me - and I say special for their ability to transport me to another world, to make me laugh and cry and feel, to make me love their characters and ache
for them when they faced tough times, and for the sheer, magical prose that dripped off the page and into my eager young mind. Robert Holdstock, Phillip Pullman, Ursula le Guin to name just a few of
these talented souls.
Now add Wendy Leighton-Porter to the list and I wish I'd found this story when I was a kid. Her characters are engaging and sympathetic and they never do things that make you want to throw rocks at them, which is refreshing in teenage fiction! I especially loved the character of Max, the intrepid adventuring cat whose portrait graces the front cover. The storyline itself is exciting and something that anyone with an interest in the myth of Atlantis will enjoy. What's even better is that The Shadow of Atlantis is only the first step on the journey and will shortly be followed by another adventure that I hope will transport me to another world as effectively as this book has. Kids and adults alike will love this and I'm looking forward to sharing Atlantis with my little nephew when he's old enough to appreciate it.
Five out of five for great plotting and characterisation. Can't wait for the next instalment!"
SHANA SILVERMAN, author
"Beautifully written and imaginative time-travel tale for young readers:
"Wendy Leighton-Porter has written a fantastic series of books (i.e., Shadows From the Past) filled with mystery, suspense, and adventure.
The Shadow of Atlantis is a well-written story with a collection of likable main characters, a solid plot line, snippets of educational facts about a historically important location and event, and, is filled with mystery, magic, and suspense. This book grabbed me at the prologue and had me hooked until the end.
Who Would Like This Book? I think anyone who loves reading about time-travel, loves learning about cultures from other time periods, and loves a good mystery will easily get hooked into this series. I would also suggest that if you are a cat lover, you will also fall in love with Max. Ages 8+"
RENEE CORMIER, Mother Daughter Book Reviews, Canada www.motherdaughterbookreviews.com
Reviews for The Shadow of the Minotaur
"So having already enjoyed the first book in this excellent series by author Wendy Leighton-Porter, I was absolutely elated to find myself transported back to the past of ancient Crete and the palace of Knossos, where I have enjoyed many holidays and gotten totally absorbed by tales of the minotaur and the mythology and life that once took place there. As their journey begins, Joe, Jemima, Charlie and Max meet with prince Theseus and embark on their journey to Crete, with the prince believing them to be messengers from Zeus himself. So begins another mystery where the kids must learn and develop their historical knowledge in order to befriend the people of Knossos and solve another mystery that will bring them closer to finding out what happened to their parents. I could easily imagine this ancient world and I found it incredibly well described for the size and scale of the place: it matched in my mind the imaginings I’d had when I first visited Knossos myself.
Plot wise, we take some new twists and turns with a variety of events that are refreshingly different from the first adventure. I liked how Leighton-Porter finds a balance between portraying the authentic and often violent history of the Greek Empire, but also keeping it clean and teaching kids about the effects of alcohol and the nature of the gory way of life there. Again, the historical details were exceedingly well researched and brought to life in an atmospheric way through engaging prose, but the kids and Max’s dialogue and narration also bring modern sensibilities to the plot and always stop it feeling like a lecture.
Overall, there are even bigger character developments in this second novel which endear us to the central heroes, and I can feel the larger plot arc getting more and more exciting as it progresses. Can’t wait to continue!"
K. C. FINN, author
"I love this series but this particular book had me gripped from start to end. Probably my favourite of the entire series. I love the way this author writes about different legends. She brings them to life. Buy this book, you won't regret it."
"The adventures of twins Jemima and Joe, their talking Tonkinese cat Max, and their best friend Charlie continue with another trip back into the past using the magic
book they found in their uncle's attic. Their previous adventures began with a time travel trip to Atlantis in search of their parents, who have mysteriously disappeared. The book, Shadows of the
Past, (which belonged to their missing parents) opens to the second chapter, and the poem (a clue) that begins the chapter indicates the adventure concerns the Minotaur and the Athenian prince
Theseus. They unhesitatingly step into the past, and find themselves embroiled in an adventure that's a lot more dangerous than the previous one. Theseus is rather a selfish, absent-minded hero, and
without the kids' and Max's good ideas, will he even manage to slay the Minotaur at all? With the help of Princess Ariadne (King Minos' daughter) and of course Max's vital intervention, they need to
achieve their mission and make it back to the present day.
Having read The Shadow of Atlantis, I confess I couldn't wait to go on another time travel trip with this trio (or should that be quartet?). Author Wendy Leighton-Porter has an amazing knack of placing her heroes right smack into situations that are potentially big and scary (and this one is uber-scary) and then letting them work out the escape routes by using their brains. The kids are refreshingly honest. They don't let arrogant Theseus steal all the glory. They are also very brave and inventive. They reaffirm the bonds of friendship and loyalty, and isn't that what kids should be learning in life lessons. It's not easy to do the right thing when situations are frightening and dangerous, but our young heroes, human and feline, persevere against all odds. The adventures will continue as the kids search for the twins' parents, but their renewed hope brings a new and positive slant to their escapades. This is a fantastic way of getting young readers interested in ancient myths and legends, and in realising that history is not dry as dust, but is vibrant and exciting. All the characters are believable and wonderfully drawn. Max, of course, quite steals the limelight!"
FIONA INGRAM, author
"The Shadow of the Minotaur is the second in Wendy Leighton-Porter’s Shadows from the Past series. These books really appeal to me since they deal with a bit of history I did at school – my history knowledge doesn’t go much past 1066 as I gave up History to study German. I have some general knowledge of other times, like the Napoleonic Wars (due to Sharpe and Aubrey/Maturin) and the Great Fire of London because we did a project on that at junior school! But I loved Greek Myths, and at present that’s the era that Wendy Leighton-Porter is treating us to, with the adventures of Jemima and Joe, and their friend Charlie, and Max the cat.
The second in the series picks up from The Shadow of Atlantis and sends Jemima, Joe and Charlie (and Max) off to a ship travelling from Athens to Crete. It’s just over a year since they visited Atlantis, and there is a delightful meeting, or should I say reunion, with the family they persuaded to flee from Atlantis before it was too late. The first half of the book is an interesting mix of holidaying and news gathering, with an underlying issue of the sacrifice to the Minotaur of the Athenian young people, who were on the ship they arrived on.
Suddenly it gets serious, and our heroes are at the entrance to the labyrinth where the Minotaur awaits his dinner, i.e. a human sacrifice or several. Theseus seems not quite the hero we read of in the myths. The story twists and turns much like the labyrinth and continues to do so right to the end.
I found this to be very much a book of two halves – one light and inconsequential, the other adventurous, exciting and sometimes unexpected. Maybe setting up the story works well with the more touristic approach, but I couldn’t wait to get to the action.
However, as one who holds the memory of those buildings and painted walls of the palace at Knossos from a very early history lesson, I found it deeply satisfying to be transported there by Ms Leighton-Porter’s excellent and detailed descriptions.
It is a book rich with a magical departed culture, and an exciting encounter with a truly horrible monster. Fortunately our heroes (male, female and feline) live to adventure another day. Where next? I’m looking forward to the Trojan Horse!"
"I have a 9 year old daughter who is now completely hooked on this series! She has read the first two books and is eagerly awaiting more. I like to take the time to
pay attention to what she reads and I have to say, I am so pleased to have discovered an author who is able to not only captivate but educate! The author makes the legend of Atlantis (and also the
story of the Minotaur in the second book) so accessible to kids and in such an imaginative way. My daughter loved the children's characters and also the comical, lovable cat Max and his ability to
help the characters out during times of strife! We will be looking out for future books from this author for sure. A really enjoyable adventure for kids and highly recommended."
A. BRADSHAW, New Zealand
"I thoroughly enjoyed Wendy Leighton-Porter's first instalment in the Shadows from the Past series. In The Shadow of the Minotaur, we join the twins on another exciting adventure, this time to ancient Greece, where mythical beasts are alive and well. One thing that strikes me about The Shadows series is the wonderful way in which the author brings alive the historical detail in her stories to help young readers learn something new about the past. In this book, it feels as if Wendy Leighton-Porter has really come into her own; her voice is unique and fresh and the story (without giving too much away!) is exciting and peppered with wonderful characters, my favourite being the adorable feline Max. Looking forward to reading more Shadows tales when they appear and recommend them whole-heartedly to readers young and old."
SHANA SILVERMAN, Australia
"My daughter loves the Shadow series; the first book The Shadow of Atlantis totally had her hooked and this second book didn't disappoint. The books are great at exciting a knowledge for history and are wonderfully written with lots of endearing characters and action to keep young readers entertained. The Shadow of the Minotaur is a great read and we can't wait for the next in the series."
"Another Shadow from the Past to delight and inform children. Whilst Theseus is being sent, along with other terrified young Greeks, by King Aegeus to face almost certain death at the hands of the Minotaur in ancient Crete, Jemima and Joe and their young neighbour, Charlie, assisted by the irrepressible talking Tonkinese cat, Max, take on another chapter of their leather-bound volume, Shadows from the Past. Wendy Leighton-Porter draws the reader, young and old, into the unfolding story with her masterly writing full of both excitement and humour (Max can be uproarious!). Children, after reading this, will feel inspired to find out more about the amazing story of Theseus and the Minotaur. A fabulous book!Another magical story from a gifted new writer."
Reviews for The Shadow of the Trojan Horse
"The Shadow of the Trojan Horse marks an important turning point in the social and emotional development of the Shadows from the Past series, and its impact is just undeniable. I have been steadily falling in love with the series and the adventures of Jemima, Charlie, Joe and the enigmatic talking cat Max, but from this book onwards, author Wendy Leighton-Porter has really set her cap on a much deeper and more important goal than just a superbly entertaining children’s series. Here, our band of adventuring kids are sent by Aphrodite into the depths of the Trojan War, for which the boys are especially excited. But the true nature of war, death, blood and guts rears its head at once, teaching an important lesson about the true nature of violence.
There were, perhaps, hints of this in Shadow of the Minotaur, but now the story has reached an important maturity and a deep lesson for its protagonists and readers. The past is nothing like a videogame, and these facts are put across in a non-graphic, but quite shocking way which teaches a totally essential lesson. There’s lots of fun and frolics too, of course, which keep the plot going and never let it get too dark, and the bond between Jemima and Cassandra, daughter of King Priam, was a lovely developmental touch. I was really blown away by the quality of writing and the construction of such a powerful message here, which really hammers home the fact that the stakes are now incredibly high.
From here on in, there’s certainly going to be much still to discover for our heroes and the gorgeous Max, and it’s clear now that the danger is real and the stakes are high. Thank goodness there is still so much more adventure to enjoy!"
K. C. FINN, author
"Wendy Leighton-Porter's time-travel adventure fantasy for children, The Shadow of the Trojan Horse: Shadows From the Past, Book Three, is a fascinating and action-packed historical fiction novel that finds Jemima, Joe, Charlie, and Max in Troy in the final days of the endless conflict between the Trojans and the Greeks. While this is the third book in the Shadows From the Past series, the author provides enough background information to allow this volume to be read on its own. That being said, I'm fairly sure that anyone else who reads this novel will be as interested in reading the first two volumes as I am. The Shadow of the Trojan Horse educates as it entertains, and I loved watching as the time-travelers interacted with Cassandra and the other Trojans, and worked with them to try to find an alternative solution to their plight. Along the way, Joe, Charlie, and Jemima get an up close and personal look at war: the brutality and blood, and the inevitable loss of life, and find it very different than they previously had thought, based on games, shows and books. The Shadow of the Trojan Horse: Shadows From the Past, Book Three has a grand plot and is beautifully written, and it's most highly recommended."
READERS' FAVORITE BOOK REVIEWS
"Jemima and Joe Lancelot, along with their talking cat Max, and their best friend Charlie, are off on another adventure. The twins live with their Uncle Richard since their parents’ mysterious disappearance several months earlier. Only the children and Max know what really happened—Mr. and Mrs. Lancelot, with the aid of a mysterious book, have become trapped in the past. Using the book and a special key, the kids are desperately dipping in and out of time to track down the adults. Oddly enough, when Uncle Richard gives them their (eleventh) birthday presents—an Xbox game of the Trojan War for Joe and a special charm bracelet for Jemima as well as a book on Troy—it is more than enough of a hint as to where they are going next. The kids, Charlie, and Max end up in the middle of the Trojan War. They do their best to stay alive, find out more about where the twins’ parents were last seen, and do all they can to turn the tide of events in a war that has been raging for ten years.
I love this series and have become hooked on it since book one, The Shadow of Atlantis. Max is really coming into his own, and the adventures would not be the same without him. This time, Max has a significant role to play, although his efforts to help end in disaster. However, in one of the funniest scenes of the book, he gets the chance to make amends although it’s not quite the heroic role he anticipated. Dressed as Hermes, the winged messenger of the gods, Max tries to intervene to alter the fortunes of war. Alas, one cannot change the past, and those who must perish cannot be saved. Once again, author Wendy Leighton-Porter skilfully weaves a world of mythology, fantasy, and fact, and immerses her young protagonists slap bang in the middle of Homer’s epic poem, The Iliad.
The adventure is a turning point for the kids and Max as they face the reality of brutal war, death, and destruction when Troy falls through treachery. The author conveys a subtle message about violence that will help kids decide what is and is not acceptable. Other life lessons come when they realise they cannot turn the tide of history. For once, they are mere small pawns in a gigantic battle involving no less than the gods of Olympus, who prove to be as weak and fickle as the humans whose lives they dominate. The kids learn about human qualities, some good, some bad: King Priam’s pride and stubbornness; Hector’s bravery, Agamemnon’s cruelty, Cassandra’s compassion and self-sacrifice. I found a change in the series at this point, as the book embraces deeper, darker, and more mature themes. The author does a wonderful job of not sugar coating significant events and life’s realities.
However, all is not lost, history is fulfilled, and the kids return with a fragment of information on the adults’ whereabouts. Cassandra’s gift of prophecy has given them a glimmer of hope. Back home, Uncle Richard—hugely impressed by their avid interest in history and archaeology—provides them with some reassuring facts about the final fate of several characters. In addition, some interesting changes emerge on the domestic front. Uncle Richard and Charlie’s mum Ellen are going out for a drink! Could this be something significant? We’ll have to wait and see what transpires in the next adventure…
A helpful map, pronunciation guide, a list of characters, and the author’s note placing Homer, Troy, history, and Greek mythology in context will add to young readers’ enjoyment. If you are a parent wanting to get your kids entranced with reading, start them on this series. It’s a great learning curve, with fun, action, adventure, and a unique story line."
"This novel in the Shadows of the Past series is a real favourite of my daughter (and I have to say myself as well!) We have read the other wonderful stories in this series and this installment is simply brilliant. I really feel like the author has come into her own in this story and established herself as a great writer of young people's fiction. In this episode, the children travel to the ancient city of Troy where they try to change the course of history in preventing the destruction of the city by the Greeks. The exciting tale of the Trojan Horse is interwoven with the adventures of the children and Max the cat who finds himself in his scariest situation yet! In another brilliant touch, the author introduces another layer of action with the Gods watching the story unfold before them and influencing events. I really can't speak more highly of this novel. Highly entertaining, educational and gripping! My daughter and I will continue to read these books together and eagerly await more!"
"You think you know this story? Not this version. It's brilliant! So cleverly thought out and written. I love this part of history and its a fun book that will have you on the edge of your seat by the end."
"This is the third in the Shadows from the Past series, and I think it’s the best to date. Jemima and Joe have lost their parents because they got stuck on the wrong
side of a time travel gateway without the key to get back. Jemima has the key now, and she, Joe, their next door neighbour and best friend Charlie, and their cat Max, are all old hands at going
through the portal and finding out what goes on in the past. They are now beginning to find clues to their parents as well.
In this story, they land in the middle of the Trojan War – as in the Greeks fighting the Trojans outside Troy for ten years. It’s all going to end when the Greeks hide inside a wooden horse and the Trojans take it inside their city and thus let the Greeks in to destroy them. Cassandra has foretold it, and nobody believes her, since that is Cassandra’s doom, bestowed by the gods.
The gods are important in Greek myths; they are always interfering and having their own petty squabbles, and using mortals to solve their problems – usually in a mean and painful way. Thus it is here, and we switch from what Jemima, Joe, Charlie and Max are doing on the ground, to what Aphrodite is doing with the pieces that represent them on her board game.
I read a lot of myth and legend when I was young, but I used to get very irritated with the way the gods interfered, and I gave up on the Greek ones for that reason. I used to get all the heroes and kings and queens mixed up as a result. After finishing this book I feel perfectly clear who they all are! Ms Leighton-Porter has made them all well-rounded characters, full of petty foibles, or heroism, or stupidity, depending on what is required. I love the way Jemima, Joe, Charlie and Max became pawns on the board, and particularly Max’s heroic role.
In some ways this story isn’t as exciting as the others, since the kids are in less actual danger, but I thought it was the best so far; the story is brilliantly interwoven with the traditional one, the role of each time traveller is realistic, and I understand the issues of the Trojan wars better than ever before. Kudos to Ms Leighton-Porter and roll on number 4 – the Shadow of the Pyramid!"
"Wendy has produced a cracker in this, the third of the 'Shadows from the Past' series. Forget the Odyssey and the Iliad - this is much more fun. Wendy places her delightful characters in the horns of yet another historical dilemma; but how will they save the day? Well worth a read!"
"Wendy Leighton-Porter's imaginative and epic adventure series is a firm favourite in our house, and this latest edition's arrival was greatly anticipated. It is a fantastic story, I like the way that all the historical facts are woven into the narrative and the children love the adventure quality of the book as well as the problem-solving aspect; they always like to guess the anagram and work out the clue to the adventure. The three books in the series complement each other beautifully and we hope that the children solve the mystery surrounding their parents' disappearance, but maybe not too soon; we're enjoying the adventure and are looking forward to the next book, The Shadow of the Pyramid. We like all things Egyptian and can't wait to see how Max the cat gets on."
"These are the best books ever. They absorb me and I feel like I'm there. I always want more and I never want it to end ... You are the best author and I bet your books will become a classic."
EVIE PERFECT, aged 8
"Another in this very entertaining saga which romps through the classical world. Scary adventures and a quest. What more could one ask for? My granddaughter loved it! Some more books please!"
MOIRREY, Isle of Man
"I am a huge fan of Wendy Leighton-Porter's earlier books and the latest installment featuring the twins and the wonderful Max certainly lives up to the high standards I've come to expect. Great plotting and character development and wonderful characters whom you can really get behind. As always, Max plays an integral part in the adventure which makes the book a must for cat lovers. Can't wait for the next one!"
"Continuing the story of the Lancelot twins' quest to find their parents lost somewhere in the past, Wendy now takes the reader back to ancient Troy. In a masterly re-take of the tragic course of events that led to the fall of Troy, Wendy again demonstrates her detailed knowledge of the ancient world woven into a tale of action, mystery and friendship that should keep readers young and old turning the pages till they reach an alternative conclusion to a much loved legend."
Reviews for The Shadow of the Pyramid
"The adventure continues in The Shadow of the Pyramid as I enter the fourth book of this superb series. After the spellbinding step up in book three where the characters really matured and began to deal with the gravity of their time travelling adventures and their real world consequences, I couldn’t wait to see what was in store in another of my absolute fave historical time periods: the time of the Ancient Egyptians. And author Wendy Leighton-Porter did not disappoint me one bit!
I loved how the author placed the adventure at the time of the boy king Tutankhamun, which keeps the middle grade feel of the novel because our plucky heroes aren’t dealing with adults all the time. Although King Tut is very different to the modern day time travellers – and rightly so, and very amusingly so – as the kids are soon about to learn. The plot of assassination is dealt with in a high stakes way which is fun, but also quite serious in parts, and I think it will give young readers some real insight into the backstabbing political culture of Ancient Egypt, but from an accessible beginner’s point of view.
Also, how cute was Max all the way through this? I love his narration and presentation, giving us these unique perspectives that we’re not able to get from any other character. The moments with Max feel like the Michael Morpurgo novels of my childhood, which is a huge boon to the series and keeps it fresh and youthful, even when things are getting very serious elsewhere. I think Wendy Leighton-Porter has a real knack for balance, and this wild ride into the culture of Ancient Egypt shows an author really hitting their stride, knowing their characters inside out and confidently carrying them through vivid, engaging history."
K. C. FINN, author
"My six year old daughter loved this book. She read this right after reading the Shadow of Atlantis. She loved how she learned so much about ancient Egypt. She learned about how they worshipped their gods, and loved finding out about King Tut and his Queen. I did not personally read this book, but when a book excites my daughter, who reads way above grade level, I'm extremely happy! I'm very thankful to have found this series. Thank you, Ms. Leighton-Porter for this wonderful writing!"
KRISTIN BARKMAN, parent, USA
"If you haven’t started reading the Shadows from the Past series, I really think you’re missing out. It starts with the Shadow of Atlantis, and we meet Jemima and Joe, twins who have come to live with their Uncle Richard, an archaeologist, because their parents have mysteriously disappeared. Everyone is trying to help the twins with their grieving, but the twins know better; along with Max, their superb cat, they have discovered not only a book that takes them into the past, but also that their parents were ahead of them – and lost the key to get back. Consequently, Jemima, Joe, Max and their friend Charlie are now working their way through the adventures that the book insists they take – landing them in one historical hotspot after another.
In the fourth book, as you may have guessed, they arrive in ancient Egypt – at the time of Tutankhamun. This is a very well constructed adventure, leaning heavily on Max’s abilities to act like a cat – oh, wait, he is a cat, isn’t he? Well, Max is definitely the star with all the best lines in this adventure. There are some excellent twists of the tale (or do I mean tail?) and a lovely reconstruction of a well-researched period for which there is surprisingly little evidence. Ms Leighton-Porter’s intrigue and machinations are all too believable and she may well have discovered the truth about the boy-Pharoah. Although Max was really the one who discovered the plot and almost changed history.
Full marks for a great and exciting adventure… More please!"
"My granddaughter and I loved this book. We have been following the series and waiting for each one to come out. I think this one is the best. It is quirky and funny. Very enjoyable."
"Jemima, Joe, their talking Tonkinese cat Max, and their best friend Charlie are off on their adventures again, searching for Jemima and Joe’s parents (somehow trapped
in the past) and this time they are headed for ancient Egypt. Using their magical book, the poem containing clues, and Jemima’s necklace with the key, the kids and Max are transported back in time,
arriving in the middle of an assassination plot to murder the young king Tutankhamun. Alas, Max has a morbid fear of mummies, having glimpsed a ghastly sight of one on Joe’s XBox game and he’s not
too keen on this part of their adventure. They meet Ankharet, the gorgeous cat belonging to Tut’s young wife, Ankhesenamun. Max is totally smitten, but unfortunately Ankharet (who is jealous of Max’s
instant popularity) doesn’t feel quite the same way about him. As the adventure unfolds, the kids and the cats, along with Tut’s wife try to stop several attempts on the young king’s life. Max even
manages to foil two attempts, displaying a kind of unintentional bravery. The king is entranced with Max and names him “Max, beloved of Amun.” What an honour! Alas, despite their best efforts, once
again the kids and Max are unable to change the course of history and cannot prevent the young king’s fate, a mystery which remains to this day. The end of the book is absolutely delightful and kids
will just love the twist in this tale.
Max’s fear of mummies and the like afford some absolutely hilarious moments, especially since all his apparent heroics and saving the day are by accident. Author Wendy Leighton-Porter has woven a marvellous mixture of suspense, adventure, history, geography, and culture into an intriguing tale. Using real historical figures, she captures the feel and flavour of ancient times, and puts forward some quite viable theories for exactly what might have happened to Tutankhamun. As in previous books, the kids and Max are totally immersed in history, and this tale will definitely draw eager young readers to join them in the adventure. There are some interesting facts at the end of the book which will no doubt stimulate young time travellers to go and do a bit more research. Learning history the fun way is becoming the mark of this captivating series."
FIONA INGRAM, South Africa
"This latest tale that follows our adventuring Jemima, Joe, Charlie and pussy cat Max into ancient Egypt is another winner! My daughter and I were delighted to
discover this latest installment in the series. One of the things that makes these tales so accessible is that the author has a wonderful way of recapping previous adventures with great skill. If you
started reading the books at this point, it wouldn't matter! (Although I highly recommend reading them all!) This story is full of plotting and intrigue as we meet King Tutankhamun and watch as the
children try to foil the attempts on his life. Without giving it away, the ending of this tale is so incredibly clever. My daughter and I were riveted and are such fans of this series now. More
"This is a fast paced, fun, well-written and somewhat educational book. The author presents a lot of historical fact along with obviously creating a very interesting fictional novel. If your child has never seen a hieroglyph then he/she will enjoy seeing the kids names in this book. Max is a great help in this novel and fun to read about him in action. It's a book you really do not want to put down as you want to find out what happens! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!"
LIZ POMEROY, USA
"I love this book. It's a wonderful version of the legend of Tutankhamun. Another great book from this author. Wendy Leighton-Porter has a great gift of bringing legends and stories back to life for this generation."
"In this, the fourth book of the 'Shadows' series, Wendy Leighton-Porter takes her readers on a journey to Ancient Egypt. Children love to hear about the exploits of the central characters - not least of all, Max the magical cat! And this book does not disappoint; lots of fun and fast-paced adventures involving none less than King Tutankhamun. Another winner from Wendy!"
"Being a huge fan of all things Ancient Egyptian, I was excited to discover that Wendy Leighton-Porter has set the latest installment in the Shadows series smack bam in Mummy Land! There is something that resonates in Leighton-Porter's writing long after you've turned the last page - a sense of history and place but given that contemporary twist so popular with young (and old!) readers. I thoroughly enjoyed the twins' latest adventure which sees them trying to overturn a plot to assassinate a young pharaoh, and I am interested as to where the series will move to next. Great book, thoroughly recommended."
"Tonkinese cats rule - viva Max & co! Max the cat is wonderful and his adventures truly varied. A classic of the future."
Reviews for The Shadow of the Volcano
"I think this might be my favourite instalment of Shadows from the Past so far, and that’s saying something because I have really fallen in love with this series as it’s developed and progressed. But there’s just so much to talk about in this incredible story that really impacted me and made me feel totally fulfilled as a reader. First off, I love the tales of Ancient Rome and have actually been to Pompeii, so the culture, architecture and historical accuracy in the wake of such a terrifying volcanic disaster was spot on throughout. There’s a poignancy to the ignorance of the people and their beliefs about the grumbling volcano, and something so sweet and painfully naïve in the hindsight of the children, who just aren’t listened to at all throughout the novel by the know-better adults (which I’m sure will be both satisfying and frustrating for young readers to bear).
Then there’s the actual experience of what it’s like to be a poor child with no parentage in Roman times. Slave girl Caris opens a doorway into the truth of the experience, and the twins do all right generally but poor Charlie gets off to a rough start, bless his heart! I loved the way the children wove into the real factual life of slave children, and also the peril this puts on the plot as they try to get out before Vesuvius blows its top. And then there was this gorgeous and lovely sub plot with Max and the lion, which just melted my heart for the love story that he’s helping to bloom, but also Max’s own hubris when he gets treated so well by the priestess. Hilarious and magical.
A really stunning lesson in real history with a brilliantly woven plot. More please!"
K. C. FINN, author
"In book 5 of the Shadows from the Past series, twins Jemima and Joe, friend Charlie and superstar Max the Tonkinese cat are whisked off to the port at Pompeii. Fortunately they have picked up enough history to know that it’s the worst place anyone could be on 24th August 79AD. So, arriving in mid-August and being mistaken for slaves, they have little time to work out how to get people to leave the city – and little chance to do so.
I am predisposed to enjoy any account of the destruction of Pompeii, since it grabbed my imagination at an early age, and even more so when I found myself translating Pliny’s eyewitness account direct from the Latin in my fifth year (exam year) at school. I still find it hard to describe the thrill I experienced, reading something that old, in the original language. In my memory he wrote it sitting at his breakfast table as the horrific events happened across the bay, but Ms Leighton-Porter reproduces some of his translated writings in an appendix to this book, and it’s not the bit I did! As she took the opportunity to honour her Latin teacher, I’d like to mention my own, Miss Hamilton, a kind and studious woman who is probably nearly a hundred now, if she is still with us.
Back to the book: Jemima and Joe find friends and more influential slaves in their own household, while Charlie gets a more prestigious place. Max becomes an alley cat of sorts, and has some amazing adventures of his own. That cat needs a book to himself. Oh… check out Max’s Arabian Adventures and Max’s Christmas Adventure!
What marks this book out as special is the level of detail about daily life in Pompeii, which is interesting in itself, yet with enough plot and sub-plot to capture the attention of the reader. There is plenty to stir the nerves and make you wonder ‘will they, won’t they’ before the inevitable eruption occurs.
You’ll have to hope they got out in time in order for there to be a book 6… This is another superb episode from Wendy Leighton-Porter!
I bought this book in September, along with a few more in the series, as I’m completely addicted to it. I’m very honoured to be involved in the BookElves with Wendy."
JEMIMA PETT, author
"Adventure, history and humor all rolled into one!
I like the way the writing is spaced making it easier for children to read. The quality is good, presenting some history along with some great fiction. A story that really draws you into it so you really do not want to put it down. At the end of the book you will also find some Latin words along with the pronunciations and meanings. The author's notes are also very interesting. VERY, VERY worthwhile reading!"
"I loved this book. Having visited Pompeii and Herculaneum, it transformed for me the eeriness of those places into bustling towns full of real people who are about to be killed. I remember Caecilius from my daughters' Latin studies - how nice to see the man made into a human being with his own story. The near escapes are thrilling. You can almost smell the ash and cinders as destruction rains down and people flee. I like volcanoes and have visited Vesuvius as well as read Tacitus. This is a wonderful combination of the classics with children's adventure. I recommend it."
"Another major historical event, another trip back in time for the Lancelot twins and another fabulous story for children. AD 79 and Mount Vesuvius blows its top. The terror this must have caused for the citizens of Pompeii was preserved forever in the anguished bodies of those unearthed from the ruined city, but now, because of Joe, Jemima, Charlie and the loveable talking Tonkinese cat, Max, these ash-frozen ghosts are brought back to life in another lovely 'Shadows from the Past' tale. Wendy's enjoyable ease of style will make this all the more believable for young readers... plus encourage them to delve further into the history of this cataclysmic event. My grandchildren are going to love this one, I know!"
"I was delighted to see this latest installment of the Shadows from the Past series available! My daughter and I are avid followers and this latest adventure is equally as gripping as the earlier books. In this episode, the children and Max travel back to Pompeii, days before the massive eruption destroys the city. They have only a matter of time to spread the word of the danger and escape themselves. We particularly enjoyed Max's moments of genius and the gladiator action that ensues. The author captures the eeriness and terror of the eruption particularly well and we were on the edge of our seats, hoping our young heroes would get out! Another highly educational and exciting novel from Wendy Leighton-Porter. My daughter and I really don't know what on earth we will do when the series concludes!! Highly recommended once again."
"This is a story I really enjoyed reading. What a wonderful imaginative way to teach children ancient history. Life in Pompeii just prior to the eruption of Mount
Vesuvius is brilliantly told. It is skilful writing to bring our contemporary world where Joe, Jemima, Charlie and their talking cat, Max live and contrast it with ancient times. As a cat lover, I
grew very fond of the lovable Max too.
Time travel does this effortlessly and successfully in this book. As I read the description of the gladiators and the bloodthirsty world they inhabited, for example, our modern standards are apparent. I felt the disgust of the children as they witnessed what was then an acceptable and everyday spectacle. The adult reader will appreciate the attention to detail and the historical accuracy which is evident from the first page.
I will certainly read all the books from this series Shadows from the Past and I look forward to more from this talented writer. If teachers of history discovered these books, I can imagine that fewer children would find `ancient history boring'!"
IONA CARROLL, Scotland
"Our loveable characters take a trip in time once again - this time to an angry volcano! Will the children be able to save the day - and get any closer to finding what they seek? Get into this series and you won't be disappointed. Having visited the area of Pompeii many years ago, it was lovely to be transported back - and have lots of fun and excitement in the process. Kids will devour this latest offering from Wendy."
"The Shadow of the Volcano is the fifth adventure of twins Joe and Jemima Lancelot and their friend Charlie. Joe and Jemima have been searching for their parents who disappeared several months earlier. Thanks to an old book and a magical key, as well as special charms, the kids and Max (their talking Tonkinese cat) are able to travel back in time to search for the twins’ parents. Sadly, on their previous adventures, it seems the twins’ parents were always just ahead of them. On this trip, they hope they’ll catch up with their mum and dad. Trips back in time can be dangerous, especially if they end up in the middle of a war, or some disaster. The kids have had their fair share of those and this trip is no less dangerous. The kids and Max end up in Pompeii, just a few days before Mount Vesuvius will explode, destroying the whole city. Unfortunately, they also land up on the tail end of a consignment of slaves. The slave dealer Scylax is ecstatic because he’s convinced he was short-changed by three slaves in the last delivery. Jemima befriends a young slave, a Briton called Caris, and tries to cheer her up. Luckily, Joe and Jemima are attractive twins and take the fancy of their new owners, while Charlie, originally thought weedy, impresses the book-keeper with his skill in mathematics. Joe has the hardest time of all, working his fingers to the bone, as he grumbles, while Charlie and Jemima have relatively easy jobs. Max manages to inveigle himself into the household, but on the night of a party, is booted out. He is rescued by a priestess of the Temple of Isis, and she is in love with a gladiator. An adventure to rival all others ensues, with a magnificent fake battle between Leo (a lion that Max helped) and Felix, the handsome young gladiator. All this time, the kids keep trying to warn people about the impending disaster; some listen and will escape the conflagration, but for the most part, people don’t heed the warnings. Vesuvius has rumbled before and they are used to it. Will the kids catch up with their parents? Will they make it back to their own world?
I just love this series and, in my opinion, it keeps getting better with every book. Author Wendy Leighton-Porter has such a lovely sense of humour that brings even the smallest characters vividly to life. Max is utterly captivating as himself, with delusions of grandeur after living as the descendant of a god in the Temple of Isis. The kids’ new owner is based on a real Pompeiian, whose villa was discovered and excavated. So much fact is cleverly woven into the story, teaching kids a history lesson without their even knowing it. There are details that young readers will remember, simply because of the way these have been used in the tale to lend credence and veracity. Who can argue with an exciting piece of history? Of course, as in her other books, Wendy Leighton-Porter does not shy away from the gritty realities of life back then. Being a slave was no easy task, and if one was a gladiator, death was just another fight away. I truly enjoyed the rich detail of Pompeiian life pervading the story, down to the descriptions of the eruption and what it must have been like for people at the time. The end material includes some lovely particulars for avid young explorers and historians; a glossary, a floor plan of a typical house, photos of the Pompeiian excavation and more. As always, maps put the leap back in time firmly into perspective. This book is a real winner, and don’t be surprised if your young relative starts sounding like an expert volcanologist. PS: If anyone is wondering how the romance is going between the twins’ Uncle Richard and Charlie’s mum … they are going on another date!"
FIONA INGRAM, author
"Well written and will keep you hooked. This is all about the eruption of Pompeii and you follow the children and Max up until Vesuvius erupts. Well written as always by this author. Another great addition to this series."
"Excitement and history combined brilliantly: This series goes from strength to strength. The Shadow of the Volcano doesn't fail with its excitement
and educational content. A truly imaginative adventure with added factual information. The search for their parents continues in Pompeii where the twins, Charlie their friend, and of course Max are
all involved in more exciting adventures. (Max has a particularly amusing part to play - well worthy of a mention !)
The notes at the end of the story are especially interesting for the reader.
"Wendy Leighton-Porter's historical adventure novel for children and preteens, The Shadow of the Volcano: Shadows From the Past, Book Five, finds the time-travelers in Pompeii, and seeing the doomed city and its inhabitants just days before the eruption is poignant and moving. While this is book five in Leighton-Porter's Shadows From the Past historical series, each of these books is complete and can be read as a stand-alone novel. I was fascinated by the historical aspect of this work as I was not all that familiar with Pompeii, aside from the tragic images taken after the town was rediscovered. The author breathes life anew into Pompeii, showing the likely culture one would have found there at that time in history. She also addresses the issue of slavery in an upfront and personal way by having her characters experience it first-hand. The Shadow of the Volcano: Shadows From the Past, Book Five is a thrilling and exciting read, and it's most highly recommended."
READERS' FAVORITE BOOK REVIEWS - August 2016
Reviews for The Shadow of Camelot
"In the dynamic Shadows from the Past series, author Wendy Leighton-Porter continues to deliver exceptional literature for a youth audience. With exciting plots and historically relevant scenarios, Joe and Jemima enchant young readers with their thrilling adventures. In this book, The Shadow of Camelot, we are introduced to the idealistic land of Camelot, with King Arthur and Merlin the Magician taking center stage along with a cast of other interesting characters of lore and legend. Young audiences will delight in this tale, replete with magic and prophecies, which is sure to engage even the most reluctant reader. Recommended for home and school libraries, The Shadow of Camelot has earned the Literary Classics Seal of Approval."
LITERARY CLASSICS BOOK AWARDS
"The Shadow of Camelot is a big push forward for the Shadows from the Past series in terms of moving the whole arc of the mystery forward, including large parts of Max’s weird dream visions and the truth behind the origins of the three central kids and the location of the twins’ missing parents. All of this important plot is wrapped up in a fantastic package which delivers me to one of my favourite time periods from my home country’s history: the Arthurian legend, Merlin and the Knights of the Round Table.
This story takes a little while to get going compared to some of the others because there’s so much to build up, but once the full effect of the myths and legends is in place, it’s truly unstoppable in its potential for adventure, prophecy, war and mayhem. Max plays a really strong role in this one, for the first time really being central to the plot rather than having his own side quest, and it totally pays off because author Wendy Leighton-Porter has put so much into his development that at this point he had to become a protagonist in his own right, and I was totally rooting for him all the way through. One of the other really impressive elements of this particular tale was the character development and the twists that the author put on characters from the original Arthurian legends as she brought them to life for her MG audience. Shying away from those Disney-esque tropes was an excellent idea, and the figures from legend became realistic people who had their own faults and good parts too. Morgana was a great development from just a basic witch, becoming a true figure of terror in a new, more deep way.
A thoughtful and really entertaining instalment in the series which amps up the volume for future adventures."
K. C. FINN, author
"I have already read Shadow of Camelot 6 times and I think it's the best book ever ... I don't think Max will be getting any nightmares after going to Camelot, he certainly seemed popular seeing as he was the lion and had to save the bear. It really made me laugh when I found out that Aelle was scared of cats. It was good thinking of Jemima to print cats on the shields. I wish I was Jemima having all those adventures. Cattus Britannicus and Felina Malina were a great team."
EVIE PERFECT, aged 9 (Your no. 1 fan!)
"Wendy Leighton-Porter has another winner in The Shadow of Camelot, Book 6 in her time travel fantasy adventure series Shadows From the Past. Reluctant hero Max deserves a very special mention. Some (cats) are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. Max definitely experiences the latter. Although truly faint of heart, he reprises his role as a messenger of the gods, assuming the form of an ancient cat spirit, Cattus Britannicus, a role requiring a disguise as well. He is joined in this enterprise by Midnight, who assumes the suitably dramatic role of Felina Malina, and together they achieve the impossible. This was one of the funniest parts of the book. Max rises to the occasion and surprises everyone, including himself the most.
The author effectively recreates the court of Camelot, along with characters familiar to readers and fans of Arthuriana: various knights, including Sir Lancelot (with a truly hilarious French accent) who discovers that, since the twins share his name, they are related. He also gives some information about the twins’ parents. Other well known characters include Arthur himself, of course, Guinevere, and Arthur’s evil sister Morgana, who has her own villainous part to play. The story encompasses real events, places, and historical characters, adding to the fascinating story around Arthur and Camelot.
Arthurian fans will heave a huge sigh of relief to discover that Arthur’s initial choices of name for Excalibur were voted down. In fact, Wendy Leighton-Porter has put an entirely new spin on the origins of Excalibur that I found truly unique. The end notes also amplify the facts and the fiction about Arthur, the man, the king, and if he did exist. If you have been following the series, this will be another delightful adventure to enjoy with our young heroes and feline. This is an engaging read for the young and young at heart with action, adventure, feats of daring, time travel, magic, fun and lots of very clever ideas! Five stars!"
FIONA INGRAM, South Africa
"The latest in Wendy Leighton-Porter's series is yet another exciting, humorous take on a much-loved tale. I have read every one of the adventures with my daughter and we are avid fans. In this instalment, Max surprises all (including himself) with his heroic antics - no longer quivering in the corner, he rides bravely into battle with full armour! King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, Merlin, the evil Morgana and the formidable Saxon army leader Aelle - there is no shortage of wonderful characters. The author always succeeds in delivering us with a fascinating lesson in history without us even realising it and this book is no exception. A very fun read and we will be awaiting the next episode in anticipation!"
"As a lover of the Ancient and Medieval Worlds, I love this series that travels to all of those. Along with their adventure back to Camelot, the three main characters—oops, sorry Max—four main characters, had me chuckling at their dismay when Arthur was picking names for his soon-to-be-famous sword. Won't spoil this for you. Wendy's knowledge of Saxon history is very evident in the details of this story. I'm thinking the Max the cat may have fallen in love in this story, but I'll let you decide that for yourself. A great read and a great adventure!"
CHERYL CARPINELLO, author, USA
"We all love King Arthur. Merlin too, and our kids are going to love this latest novel by Wendy Leighton-Porter as the Lancelot twins, their loyal friend Charlie and loveable Tonkinese cat end up in Camelot in the ongoing quest to find Mr and Mrs Lancelot lost somewhere in the past without the magical key that Jemima now guards with her life. Max the cat comes into his own in the battle to save Camelot from attack by a cat-phobic Saxon King, helped by a feminine black feline appropriately called Midnight. Meanwhile the twins' namesake, Lancelot, has a job to do: not only is Queen Guinevere in danger from Morgana's evil plan, but the twins too. A thrilling take on the Arthurian legend, and beautifully written!"
"Wendy Leighton-Porter has done it again! In this, the latest of the Shadows from the past series, `The Shadow of Camelot', we are transported to the court of King Arthur, where Morgana (boo, hiss!), Arthur's wicked sister is well and truly up to no good. Joe, Jemima and Charlie save the day with thrills and lashings of fun - ably helped, of course, by Max, `the lion from the future'. The real story behind the story of Excalibur will leave you wanting the next exciting instalment in this series as quickly as possible. A fabulous children's read!"
"If you have been following us for some time, you’ll know that we are HUGE fans of Wendy Leighton-Porter’s Shadows from the Past series. We have been shining the spotlight on all of her books for months now and I am thrilled to be sharing my thoughts about the sixth book in the series, The Shadow of Camelot.
In each book, the heroes of the tale, Joe and Jemima Lancelot are pursuing their lost parents as they travel to historically relevant times or locations taking along with them their friend Charlie and their cat Max. In past books, they have traveled to Atlantis, ancient Greece, Troy, Egypt, and Italy. The beauty about each book is how the author brings alive the experiences of the people living in past times and places. Wendy Leighton-Porter does this so well. In The Shadow of Camelot, Leighton-Porter brings to life the legend of King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, and the magical land of Camelot.
There has always been the question as to whether King Arthur and Camelot really did exist – were they real or are they legend? The author has managed to merge snippets from the legend of King Arthur (e.g., Guinevere, the wizard Merlin, the evil Morgana) with historically real people (e.g., Aelle, the brutal Saxon leader); real events (e.g., the Battle of Mount Baden); and real places (e.g., Bath) to create a spell-binding story for middle graders. Particularly amusing was the character of the French-speaking Sir Lancelot who just happens to share a name with our twins, Joe and Jemima Lancelot – making them distant relatives! I also enjoyed how the story speculates about the true origins of the mythical sword Excalibur. You’ll have to read the book to find out!
I like how The Shadow of Camelot focused on developing Max’s character. In previous books, Max has always been a bit of a tag-along scaredy-cat (although he does rise to the occasion). In this book, he is “the one” prophesized by Merlin the Wizard, to save Camelot:
"A Lion from the future will come to save the Bear,
Accompanied by children three, one dark, the others fair.
With coat of cream, eyes like the sea and points of mushroom-grey,
His noble heart will crush our foe; the Bear will win the day.”
Max is able to conquer his fears and bravely go forth to fulfill the prophecy. I feel like this is an important development for his character and I can’t wait to see how it plays out in future books with his newly found courage.
It was a delight to read a story featuring some very famous characters such as King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, Gawain, Merlin, and others, written specifically for a middle grade audience. And by this, I mean that there is no bad language, minimal violence (aside from the story of the Green Knight), and the plot is sufficiently complex to engage middle grade and reluctant readers. Another great read in this fantastic series that I can’t stop raving about! I think girls and boys would equally like this book as it features both genders. Ages 8+"
RENEE CORMIER, Mother Daughter Book Reviews, Canada
Reviews for The Shadow of the Norman Arrow
"The Shadow of the Norman Arrow is the seventh book in the superbly exciting Shadows from the Past series, wherein I have totally fallen for the works, worlds and characters of author Wendy Leighton-Porter. Because I love all of history and have studied many different time periods through personal interest, I was delighted to see from the off that the twins, Charlie and Max were about to enter such a pivotal moment in English and European history, when the Battle of Hastings is nigh and the future of England lies at stake. Here, in this truly dangerous adventure in dark ages times, we see a genuine opportunity for the protagonists to change the course of history by their actions, which is a fascinating angle of hindsight for the young heroes to act from.
One of the things that was really cool about this particular instalment for me was Wendy Leighton-Porter’s attention to detail about the vast differences between Ye Olde Englande and the modern day London in which the kids normally live. The authenticity of the historical content, atmosphere and description brings to life another world entirely, which both feels much smaller yet also kind of vast and unknowable at the same time because it takes so very long to get anywhere. These long travels up and down the ancient country give so much space for fantastic inclusions of historical figures, other myths and legends from the time (no spoilers!) and a fun chance for Max the cat to wander off on another sub-plot of his own as well. As always I was charmed by the storyline and the learning experience of the children along the way, and it’s safe to say that history has come alive yet again in this fantastic addition to the series. Snottingham forever!"
K. C. FINN, author
"The Shadow of the Norman Arrow is amazing! I especially like the bit where the children and Max encounter the 'Nadder'. I read it all last night so I am reading it again today. I remember in the last book when the book stuck to Joe's hand, that is what your books are like for me. If I start reading it, when I put it down it will be finished!"
EVIE PERFECT, aged 10
"Another excellent episode in Wendy Leighton-Porter's superb series that combines modern youngsters with great historical events from Atlantis to.... wherever the
This time Jemima, Joe, Charlie and Max the Cat land in Sussex, close to the site where the Battle of Hastings will be fought in a few weeks, and Britain's Anglo Saxon roots will be overwhelmed by the Normans.
It's full of historical detail combined with serendipitous folklore, giving the modern youngsters every opportunity to leave their (fortunately not time-changing) mark. I loved the way the author folded in legends such as Black Shuck to add to the kid's danger.
Looking forward, as always, to the next in the series...."
JEMIMA PETT, author
"This time the intrepid trio and the cantankerous but definitely heroic talking cat, Max find themselves transported to 1066 and there the action begins. The children
meet King Harold and his two brothers, Gyrth and Leofwine who were loyal to the King. They have to fight a ‘dragon’ and extract its blood and journey with King Harold and his army to fight a battle
against his disloyal brother, Tostig who had aligned himself with Harald Hardrada, the Viking. The battle was fought at what is now Stamford Bridge and when the battle here was won, Harold and his
army had to return to Hastings to fight the invading Normans led by the famous William the Conqueror and the rest is history as they say. The story is livened up for young readers with dragons,
outlaws, the phantom black hound called Black Shuck and even Robin the Hood. History made fun for younger readers.
Joe and Jemina are still searching for their time travelling parents and there is a hint in the book that they have just missed them this time. Good news for fans of the Shadow series because this means there’s more stories to come. Max saves the day on a few occasions and even overcomes his fear of horses by befriending Blaze, Leofwine’s fine steed. The more I read of the talking cat, the more I like him.
All ends well and the children arrive safely back in their own time and are off on a holiday to France with Charlie’s mother and their Uncle Richard and of course, Max who hopes he hasn’t got to eat snails and frog’s legs! First trip for Jemina is to see the famous Bayeaux Tapestry and guess what was at the Battle of Hastings? A cat no less.
The Shadow series continue to delight me."
IONA CARROLL, Scotland
"A blossoming friendship between Uncle Richard and friend Charlie's mother, Ellie, promises a holiday in Normandy. The magical book provides a prior history lesson that twins Joe and Jemima, their clever friend and the hilarious talking Tonkinese cat, Max, will never forget. When the children and the beloved pet suddenly appear in eleventh century England, Charlie's encyclopaedic knowledge is put to good use as they try to alter the course of history. They travel north with Harold's army to witness the defeat of Harald Hardrada, invited by Harold's unpopular brother Tostig as a consequence of a family feud. Max and Charlie prove to be invaluable! The children and Max become a part of the historic rush of the King's army to the South Coast to deal with the other threat to the English Crown: William of Normandy. Sadly, a greater magic lurking in the flat lands of East Anglia determines the King's destiny... plus his refusal to heed Charlie's wisdom. Tension and humour add to the enjoyment of reading this version of events leading up to the one Battle that every schoolchild in England knows the date of."
DR. OLIVER EADE
"Further adventures of Joe, Jemima, Charlie and Max the cat. This time they find themselves in Anglo-Saxon times just before the battles of Stamford Bridge and Hastings. They attach themselves to the army of King Harold and watch as he is killed with an arrow in his eye. A new look at a piece of history all schoolchildren know. The most famous date in history. Full of ups and downs including meeting Robin Hood. I would definitely recommend it."
"The adventure starts again with the next trip into history for twins Joe and Jemima, their best friend and neighbour Charlie, and their talking Tonkinese cat Max. The twins are determined to find their parents, who are not dead, as everyone assumes, but merely lost in the pages of history. With the help of their ancient book and a magic key to open it, the kids have had quite a few forays back into some of history’s most significant and dangerous moments. This adventure is no less hazardous but the kids are up to it and Max, who totally eschews danger, violence and in fact anything uncomfortable, is not going to let Jemima get into trouble without him by her side to rescue her. The kids live with their Uncle Richard, a scholarly man who really needs a girlfriend. Things have been developing in the romance department between Uncle Richard and Charlie’s mum Ellen. Their relationship has progressed to the point of a family holiday in Normandy, France. Any history buff who knows their dates will think of 1066, the Battle of Hastings, King Harold, William the Conqueror, and the Bayeux tapestry. Well, that’s exactly what the kids thought and that’s where they went.
This time, however, Max is prepared for any danger or feats of derring-do he might be required to perform. He insists on wearing his chain mail and horned helmet especially made for him by the blacksmith in Camelot on their last adventure. Will they be welcomed by King Harold and his men or will they be considered Norman spies, especially since, when questioned, the young strangers and their weirdly dressed animal seem to know far too much about events taking place right there and then, and even about the king’s family members? Events unfold filled with the kind of stuff young readers will love. The kids enter a forest to kill a dragon and bring back its blood (renowned for magical properties) for King Harold. Instead they meet a nadder (that’s right, not at adder; a nadder) and some wonderful word play ensues. There are a few heart stopping moments and some very scary moments as the story unfolds. I enjoyed how the kids saw their home city changed into what it would have looked like so many centuries ago and also the names of places and how these had changed, although not so much as to be unrecognisable. Charlie really shines in this tale because of his interest in history, and sometimes being a swot or know-it-all is very useful.
Once again author Wendy Leighton-Porter infuses historical facts with a realism and sense of ‘now’ for young readers. History can be cruel and many times was, but she does not shy away from hardships, decisions, warfare, and the kinds of things we, as modern readers, only discover in the pages of a book. One wonders how things would have turned out if the other side had won, if something had turned the tide in an event, and the kids learn once more that one cannot tweak history to make any changes. The title of the book, The Norman Arrow, is significant in relation to the death of King Harold on the battlefield and I enjoyed that subtle reference. History comes alive under the author’s skilled pen and any young reader will be drawn right into the magicality of history populated by characters that are not dry as dust mentions or mere names in the pages of a boring book, but are people with dreams and ambitions.
For anyone who has seen the Bayeux tapestry, they may or may not have noticed a strange heraldic looking beast among the characters featured; an animal actually, rather resembling Max wearing chain mail and a helmet …"
Reviews for Max's Arabian Adventure
"As the plot thickens in the main Shadows from the Past series, it has now come time for me to start exploring the spin-off collection of Max the Tonkinese cat’s fantastic side adventures. Having truly fallen in love with Max during the main series, for his attitude, his bravado despite his fears and his many clever moments, I am giddy as a child reader would be to explore this world, and I have begun with Max’s Arabian Adventure.
It begins with Max being thieved from his home (gasp) and taken away back in time by a wicked magician who has plans to use him for a very special and somewhat sinister task. Max panics at first, but soon opportunity presents itself and the wily, wise little kitty is able to start making a break back to the future and his beloved Jemima. Following the events of their 1066 adventure, Max is well placed to be a hero after all his other experiences, and he refuses to become the new Aladdin to this wicked sorcerer’s ideas.
I absolutely adored the Arabian Nights homages and that style of sweeping narrative that was cleverly woven into this adventure, bringing classic literature and old fairytales to life in a modern and relevant way for the readership. It was so cool to have a separate story which is all Max too, which gives this fabulous and equally strong narrative viewpoint compared to the main novels. There is a welcome change of pace in the goal of the storyline as well, because poor Max is trapped without the necklace and in peril of never returning home unless he finds help. For readers seeking a tale of a reluctant hero pushed to the limit, you’ll also find all the cuteness of Michael Morpurgo and an astute literary knack for historical fiction to boot. Bravo!"
K. C. FINN, author
"I have just finished Max's Arabian Adventure. As with all your stories, I found it fast paced and exciting. I liked the twist right from the beginning that Max forgot the key, so everything he did, he did knowing that he couldn't get back."
AMELIE PRIESTMAN, aged 9
"My very favourite cat in contemporary literature, the delightful and rather large Tonkinese one called Max is back. This time in the deserts of Arabia and very much on his own without the support of his beloved Jemima, her twin brother, Joe and their friend, Charlie. Back into the past Max hurtles. An unpleasant magician needs the cat to rescue a lamp for him – shades of Aladdin here. Max is hot and thirsty and frightened – he is after all, a rather spoilt cat. Left alone in the desert, he is rescued by a talking falcon and a delightful camel. All ends well. Max is a survivor! It is my intention to read all of the Shadows of the Past series. Wendy Leighton-Porter writes so well for children and her books entertain and educate. Older readers can dip into them as well and I am in that category. Thank you for introducing Max to the world and I look forward to more of his adventures."
IONA CARROLL, author, Scotland
"I love Wendy Leighton-Porter's Shadows from the Past series and was delighted to find her latest book, where Max the cat has an unusual adventure. Max’s Arabian Adventure has one significant difference from all his other escapades with twins Jemima and Joe and their best friend Charlie—this time Max is on his own. Although Max bravely steps up when required to do so, and often plays extremely heroic roles in the face of terrible danger and almost certain death, Max secretly hates all this derring do and time traveling in search of the twins’ missing parents. After all, a cat only has nine lives and Max wants to hang onto all of his because you never know when you’re going to need them! It was that dratted book’s fault, of course, luring him into turning just one page. Wait a moment! How come the book was open? The book can only be opened by a special key, which Jemima keeps on a chain around her neck. Another thing: Joe usually is so careful about putting the book back into its box after each adventure. One shouldn’t leave a magical book lying around. Anyone might step into another world and without the key to get back… That’s what happened to Max. He was yanked into another world, a world of blazing sun and burning sand and it is very hot in the desert if you’re not used to it. His captor is a magician who has (somehow) heard of Max’s amazing feats and has a task for Max. He must enter a dark and dirty tunnel to fetch (steal) something very special for this magician who proves to be a most unsympathetic and untrustworthy character. Will Max manage to get out alive or will the magician trick him? Meeting Falak the falcon and Ghazala the camel saves his life, but how will Max get back to his family? Is he doomed to be stuck in an Arabian adventure forever?
Wendy Leighton-Porter’s feline hero, Max the talking Tonkinese cat, has brought such pleasure to young and young-at-heart readers. Max is technically a coward, but relies on his common sense, his evasive tactics when danger threatens, and his canny ‘cat’ sense to get out of trouble. Of course, having humans like Jemima, Joe and Charlie on his side also helps. It’s extremely difficult for a cat to manage when it comes to getting out of scrapes (like tunnels where one is trapped) and trudging miles back over desert sands to find civilization. But Max has done it before and he does it again. Readers will love the descriptions of how Max is whisked (by trickery!) from his comfy home to the horrors of being abandoned in the desert. The author has imbued Max with such realistic characteristics and a wonderful personality. This is truly Max’s adventure and he truly shines!"
FIONA INGRAM, author
Reviews for Max's Christmas Adventure
"Max’s Christmas Adventure is the second book in the Max’s Adventure Series. This book is best when read as a series but is highly recommended as a wonderful book for the holidays. Author Wendy Leighton-Porter’s Max’s Adventure Series, along with Max’s Christmas Adventure are books which will spur a love of reading and ignite a spirit of imagination and adventure in young readers. A delightful read which will leave kids itching to move on to the next book in the series, Max’s Christmas Adventure is recommended for home and school libraries and has earned the Literary Classics Seal of Approval."
CHILDREN'S LITERARY CLASSICS BOOK AWARDS
"The more I read of author Wendy Leighton-Porter in this extensive series, the more it starts to feel like one of those classic television shows that you never want to go off the air. If that’s the chosen metaphor, then this is its Christmas Special, which takes superstar Tonkinese cat Max off on another whimsical adventure, this time with some additional plot consequences for the Shadows from the Past series too!
Despite it being August as the novella opens, Max comes face to face with Santa Claus, who appears to be doing some out of hours work answering letters from children. When he discovers the terrible plight of twins Joe and Jemima and how their parents are stuck in time, Max accompanies the newly informed Mr Claus on a very special preview of what’s to come in the future adventures of the twins and Charlie. Whilst the Arabian Adventure was a very separate story with plenty of excitement and peril on its own, this Christmas Adventure gives us further, deeper insight into the main series and the roles that time travel and more locations are going to play in the future, whilst also being a truly fun spin on the Christmas journey type of storytelling.
Max’s narration and dialogue in this adventure were so on point and laugh out loud. Whilst I was fascinated to see the series developing with some big answers hinted at for the future mystery’s solution, there was also a hilarious banter building between Santa and Max that will keep the target audience (and their parents and guardians) giggling throughout. Once again, I was enthralled by the adventure and the charm of its author, and I’m now very excited to get back to the main plot and see how the Shadow of the Two Princes develops from here on in."
K. C. FINN, author
"Max's Christmas Adventure is a short installment of the Max's Adventures stories and an offshoot of the Shadows From The Past series, to be read before The Shadow of the Two Princes. Although it is placed in the middle of the series, I had no trouble following the story, and it made me want to read more Max's Adventures and the whole Shadows From The Past Series! Max's Christmas Adventure is a great book to read when preparing for Christmas. Even though the series is written to coincide with the twins' school break in the summer, the author manages to make the book a true Christmas tale that had me ready to break out the Christmas music and decorations, and look for more books from Wendy Leighton-Porter. If you are a Shadows From The Past series fan, then be sure you don't miss this book. If you are new to the series, catch up by reading Max's Christmas Adventure, and get into the spirit of Christmas. It being a short chapter book, I would assume it is written for children ages 8-12, but I believe that the whole family will love it. I found the book to be interesting and charming, a completely enjoyable read and look forward to reading more Shadows From The Past books by Wendy Leighton-Porter."
READERS' FAVORITE BOOK REVIEWS
"Thoroughly enjoyed reading this. It held my interest the whole time and I wanted to know where it was leading. It summed up everything so far and and gave an insight into what's to come without giving anything away. A short diversion from the other books but one which has added to the mystique of the children's journey."
“It is very good! I like the way you linked it to the Shadow Series, but even if one hadn't read the series one would still enjoy the story. I like the way you expressed Max's feelings on the twins' adventures.”
"I really liked your new book. Max is a hero once again (and also very funny). I can't wait for Shadow of the Two Princes."
"I just loved the story. What I liked very much – besides the great adventure – was the fact you put in enough back story to make it all make sense and to get kids interested in Max’s other adventures … I was intrigued by the Annals (or should that be Animals?) of Time and the Guar(dians) that will no doubt appear soon in future stories."
FIONA INGRAM, author, South Africa
Reviews for The Shadow of the Two Princes
"The tenth book in The Shadows From The Past series, The Shadow of the Two Princes is a must-read!
I loved reading The Shadow of the Two Princes by Wendy Leighton-Porter. Like the other adventures featuring Jemima, Max, Joe and Charlie, this book was filled with adventure, rich in history, and packed with excitement. I could hardly put the book down! I love how the author introduces history in a way that is so subtle children won't even realize that they are learning. I was thrilled to see that in this book they went to London close to the time of the War of Roses. I had struggled to understand what the War of The Roses was about when learning it in school. For some reason, it just didn't "click." So when the author explained it so simply, I wanted to hug her! She strips away all the political mumbo-jumbo and gives the reader the bare facts and then builds on them in a way that helps the reader learn while going on a historical adventure.
In the back of the book, the author clearly states what is fact and what she made up for her story, including the history behind her factual characters, so that there is no confusion for the reader. As a parent, when my children read I want them to know whether the stories are real or made-up. As a child, I would get frustrated with a historical fiction book that would twist history for the sake of the book, and then not tell the reader what was real and what was "poetic license." Wendy Leighton-Porter writes beautifully and creates exciting story worlds without altering history. I cannot recommend The Shadows From The Past Series enough! The author has written the books in a way that also makes them an excellent teaching resource. I would recommend this book for children ages 7-12. It is a chapter book with beautiful historical pictures as reference."
ALYSSA ELMORE for READERS' FAVORITE BOOK REVIEWS
"I have read your new book and I absolutely loved it ... I love it when I come away from your books and I always know something new."
EVIE PERFECT, aged 11
"I can’t express how wonderful it is to read through this series and escape the horrible winter weather in England right now – even when the plot takes me back to England at an even more grisly time! I truly love it when author Wendy Leighton-Porter brings me home with the history of my own country that I know and love, and I’m also a complete Shakespeare nut, so The Shadow of the Two Princes was a perfect read for me on so many levels as it explores the legacy of the villainous Richard III. This is a darker and more atmospheric tale than most of the novels so far, perhaps with the exception of the Pompeii visit, my ultimate favourite, but it is so vital to the continuation of the plot and the authenticity of the historical elements at play.
The fact that so very many of these novels are centred on famous children of history is really eye opening, because so many history books gloss over figures like the princes in the tower and focus too much instead on Richard and how wicked he was as a king. Whilst King Richard makes an excellent villain in this piece, the real gem of Leighton-Porter’s writing is in the humanity she brings to the boys who are trapped, and the relation and empathy between our heroic trio and those others whom they are determined to help. Through these plot events, we see the true suffering and quite horrible historical facts, but it’s also presented in a more uplifting and magical way as our heroes (and the gorgeous Max the cat) find innovative ways to help those whom they see to be in need. This novel also took another big step up in the big plot arc of the twins’ missing parents, building on Max’s Christmas Adventure, so I can’t wait to see where that will go in the future."
K.C. FINN, author
"What happened to the Princes in the Tower? This story gives a resolution to that question in it's own way. I liked that it did have a resolution but also left it up to the reader to decide was Richard III good or evil or a bit of both due to the harsh times he lived in. A good book for children who like mysteries and want to learn about English history."
"Again the time-traveling twins, Jemima and Joe are sent on a nail-biting adventure with neighbourhood friend, Charlie, and Jemima’s grumpy, talking Tonkinese cat, Max. This time to save the two princes imprisoned in the Tower of London from their wicked uncle, Richard the Duke of Gloucester. Help comes from the benevolent Doctor Argentine plus a mysterious raven who can communicate with Max, but the doctor’s rescue plan seems far too dangerous. Or is it? Children will love to find out by reading the latest of Wendy Leighton-Porter’s fabulous ‘Shadows’ series. Imaginative story, lovable characters and very well written... plus I learnt a little more history! At the end of the book, the writer tells us what is fact, what is fiction and what we don’t know."
EDDIE NESSUNO, Scotland
"The end with Max and Corbet made me cry! Thanks to you I now know the story of the two princes and more. I think it was a clever and quite ingenious plot!"
"This latest Shadow of the Past story for young adults is packed full with historical facts, drama and great characters. This time the intrepid trio, Jemina, Joe and Charlie together with the large and adorable Tonkinese cat named Max head for the Tower of London to rescue the two princes from the Tower. There’s action and tension on every page. Interestingly, the book throws up many questions as to the fate of the two princes and whether their wicked Uncle Richard was all that wicked after all. The author speculates and fictionalises. Actual historical characters appear including Doctor Argentine who is responsible for rescuing the two young princes as well as saving our time travelling modern trio and Max, too, from a sticky end. A very helpful Author’s Note at the end of the book gives historical facts. The possible fate of the two princes and also the character of the infamous King Richard 111 is speculation and offers intriguing possibilities. I am a fan of the Shadow of the Past series and I look forward to reading more exciting stories from this very talented writer. It takes skill to make history come alive for the young and not so young reader. I have no hesitation in awarding a richly deserved five stars."
IONA CARROLL, Scotland
Reviews for Max's Midnight Adventure
"Max’s Midnight Adventure by Wendy Leighton-Porter is a short, delightful story starring Max himself. Anyone who has been following the Shadows From the Past series will, by now, know a lot about Max. A lilac-coloured Tonkinese cat, big boned (definitely not fat), with aquamarine eyes, Max belongs to Jemima and Joe, the twins who’ve been staying with their Uncle Richard after their parents stepped into a magic book and disappeared. They’re not dead, and the twins know this because during their adventures back in time, using the magic book that belonged to their dad, they’ve either caught glimpses of their parents or heard news that they’re alive but have moved on in time. Uncle Richard, a professor of Archaeology and a bachelor, is at a loss as to how to entertain his niece and nephew, but he does his best. Uncle Richard suggests a holiday away down at the coast, in Devon, for a few days and the kids are very excited about the idea, as long as Max can come with.
A holiday means suitcases and they’re in the attic, along with a whole bunch of old boxes, filled with the stuff one usually finds in attics – old toys, Christmas decorations, favourite stuffed animals that no one has the heart to throw out. Max, although short on courage, is long on curiosity and several close shaves during their time travel adventures have done little to diminish his nosiness. He follows Uncle Richard into the attic and does his own poking around. He’s astounded to see the twin’s uncle clutching a shabby old teddy bear and weeping over the loss of his brother, and realises that just because adults don’t say much doesn’t mean they don’t feel sadness. It’s all a bit much for Max who thinks a quick snoozette, while Uncle Richard is pottering about, is in order. As you can imagine, Uncle Richard finishes up in the attic, and goes back downstairs, leaving Max curled up inside a box, but there’s someone else in the box as well… How is Max going to get out of the attic? Will he be left there while the kids and their uncle go on holiday?
I love author Wendy Leighton-Porter’s style. In just a few lines of dialogue we meet and get to know a variety of characters, from Colonel Nutcracker (a pompous regimental sort) to Tinkerbell (aka Stinkerbell) who is particularly nasty and sarcastic to poor old Max just because he broke her wand by accident (which could have happened to anyone!), to Action Man who can’t stop flexing his muscles and showing off, to the entire cast of The Twelve Days of Christmas … with the French hens going on strike, the nine ladies getting into a huddle with the football team, to absolute chaos and mayhem. This is a wonderful peep into Max’s life that affords lots of laughs, largely due to the inventiveness of the author, the hilarious interactions between the various characters, and the ultimate charm of Max, the big-hearted (albeit slightly cowardly) hero of the series."
FIONA INGRAM, author
"Although no time travel in this one, it is definitely not one you will want to miss if you are a fan of this series. Uncle Richard has just announced that he is
taking the twins, Joe and Jemima, and Max to the seaside tomorrow. That means going up into the attic to find the suitcases. Of course, Max being nosey, follows him up. Whilst up there Uncle Richard
has a nostalgic look at some of his and James' (father of the twins who has got lost in time along with their mother) childhood toys. Not wanting to intrude, Max curls up and takes a snooze.
Uh oh! Max is now trapped in the loft with Action Man, Tinks, Colonel Nutcracker and many more! Why is Tinks so mad at him? Can they all work together to help bring notice of Max's distress to the folks below? ENJOY this short and rather humourous story."
LIZ POMEROY, parent, USA
"Max’s Midnight Adventure takes us into the third of the solo adventures written for Max the Tonkinese cat, Wendy Leighton-Porter’s breakout star from the Shadows from the Past series, and I am HERE for it. Toy Story meets the Nutcracker in this gem of a mini tale, which for once does not feature any time travel or historical references. Instead, the nosy and adorable Max gets trapped in the attic when he follows Uncle Richard up the stairs in his quest for holiday suitcases. Max gets more than he bargains for as he meets a charming and varied array of personalities from the Christmas fair to an actual Action Man.
This was a hoot and a half. I love Max’s cowardly ways, and after the events of Shadow of the Two Princes, I felt like it was very necessary for readers to slip off with Max for a mini adventure that relieves some of the tension and his experiences in that book. As always Wendy Leighton-Porter weaves her magic in the atmosphere and storytelling, but the real star of this novella is in the artistry of her character development. Where the author is usually working with figures from real history and adapting them to her story needs, here she’s set free with total invention from the toys in the attic and it showcases a wide variety of personalities an fantastic inventions of idiosyncrasy and temperament. Where kids will absolutely fall over laughing at the antics of Tinks, the Colonel and those darned hens, adult readers can truly marvel at the sophistication and ease with which these larger than life figures are brought into being. A fantastic tale for one and all, and a perfect winter read."
K.C. FINN, author
Reviews for Max's Undercover Adventure
"Max has been snatched from Jemima again! Who is it this time? Why now? Max's Undercover Adventure by Wendy Leighton-Porter is an brilliant children's adventure short story. Max wakes to find himself being thrown into a van with another talking Tonkinese cat, Clio. Max is dismayed to discover that he is in for another long adventure. This time, he and several other animals have been driven to an undisclosed location. What do they want? When Max demands to be taken home, he is denied. He is informed that he is needed. The Guardians of Time have requested his presence. What do they want with him now?
Max's Undercover Adventure by Wendy Leighton-Porter is the delightful fourth book in the Max's Adventures short story series and the perfect companion to read before picking up The Shadow of The Tudor Rose from the Shadows From The Past Series! I love how Max's Adventures coincide with the Shadows From The Past series. The short stories are just short enough to encourage children to want to read more, without overwhelming them. I believe that this series (and book!) are an excellent way to boost a child's desire to read while giving them the confidence and curiosity to pick up the longer Shadows From The Past books. Wendy Leighton-Porter has created such exciting adventures full of educational value; parents will be thrilled that their children are learning and children will be begging for more adventures to get lost inside! I would recommend this book for children ages seven to eleven."
READERS' FAVORITE BOOK REVIEWS, USA
"Our beloved Max is kidnapped in this short and snappy companion adventure, which furthers the events of the main Shadows from the Past plot a little, but is mainly just a super fun romp with some other animal companions to meet and fall in love with. Max is not a brave cat by nature and it’s always fun to see him thrown into situations where he has to rise past that and be the hero we know he can be. And there’s plenty of rooting for him to do in this tale of intrigue and competition as Max as his fellow animals train up for the larger and more dangerous missions of time travel which lie ahead for them.
How cute was Clio though? I marvel at how author Wendy Leighton-Porter can give me such accurate visuals of what these adorable animals look like from just a few lines that bring out their vibe and personality. I guess this book and the previous one feel like off shoots of the series which don’t really progress the main plot, but at this point I’m so in love with the concept overall that it feels great to have a break from the main events and just enjoy lower-stakes, more fun adventures. If I look at the series as a whole so far, the doom and gloom factor is going up (as well it should be when things get more dangerous), so the Max stories have appeared at just the right moment to provide light between the shadows. I feel refreshed from this fun outlet of animal games and hijinks and ready to delve back into the deeper, more serious side of the series now. Bring it on!"
K. C. FINN, author
Reviews for The Shadow of the Tudor Rose
"This, the latest instalment in a series of time travel Shadow books, takes twins Jemima and Joe, their friend Charlie, and Jemima’s cat Max (who's working on the sly for The Guardians of Time), back to Tudor England. Luckily for us they encounter just about every famous Elizabethan you can imagine, including Chris Marlowe, Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth the First (“What do you mean, ‘the first’? There's only been one!” is among the many gags). It’s packed with historical information of educational value for kids and it’s nice that a lesser known figure like Marlowe is given a fair crack of the whip in plot. It has humour, energy, and worthwhile historical grounding."
RUBERY BOOK AWARDS 2019
"The thirteenth adventure that twins Jemima and Joe Lancelot and their friend Charlie find themselves undertaking starts off in a typically mysterious way. Catching a quick breath of fresh air outside one evening, Max, their handsome, big-boned (certainly not fat!) talking Tonkinese cat, hears a strange voice calling across time and space ... “El Gato!” Of course, everyone know that means cake, right? But somehow the voice, the words, combined with a storm make Max hurry back inside, hoping that the scenario does not presage another adventure back in time, back to usually uncomfortably dangerous situations. Max is not cowardly, just cautious, and although he also wants to help the twins locate their parents, who had gone back in time and are now lost in the past, the reader is ever mindful that a cat only has nine lives. Max might have used up eight already ... who knows? And if this is their ninth adventure, well, it could be the final one.
Every time the twins, Max, and Charlie step into history, using the magical book and key, along with clues in a poem, they manage to experience some dramatic event or other, and several of the events have been particularly hair-raising. This latest adventure is no less exciting than all the others. It is the year 1588 and a dastardly plot is being hatched on the part of the Spanish to invade England using the Spanish navy, the Armada. Although the twins are desperate to locate their parents, of course they can’t ignore the fact that this event is of the upmost importance, even though they already know the outcome. However, this is a three-pronged plot that involves more than just a naval battle. Sabotage, treachery, and assassination are involved! And what of the mystery of the Tudor Rose, since the price of treason is the ultimate punishment...
Once again, under the skilled pen of author Wendy Leighton-Porter, history comes to life! The dangerous intricacies and machinations of court intrigue, the enduring animosity between England and Spain, and the life of people in Elizabethan England are clearly laid out. From the (disgusting) lack of sanitation, to problems involving having no local money, to where to sleep, to how to get food, to how to survive being maybe considered a spy (horrors!), to meeting people now famous for their achievements, young readers get lots of history woven into an incredibly fast-paced and exciting plot that has Max really shining as the ultimate hero. He even gains royal favour! Max has a particularly poignant relationship with young playwright Christopher Marlowe (Kit) that is very special, and very moving.
I enjoyed how the author included so much of the Elizabethan flavour in both the language and phrases (very easily understood) and the events of the times. The twins meet Shakespeare himself, and this does annoy Kit more than a little because, after all, wasn’t Shakespeare just a country bumpkin? Readers who have been following the kids’ adventures, as well as Max’s own independent adventures, will learn more about the Guardians of Time. Once again, lovely word play ensues as characters misunderstand certain words, or else significant clues are embedded in phrases – all very important in foiling this plot. The end of the book contains a glossary of words and phrases, plus details of the major characters who were real life people of the era.
Max is by far my favourite character, and in this story he outdoes himself in terms of bravery and his importance in foiling the plot. To his great relief, he was not required to don a disguise, although he cannot understand why so many ancient prophecies abound which all make mention of some hero’s extreme courage that is necessary for all to end well. And, in this tale of conspiracy and derring-do, “all’s well that ends well!”
I wholeheartedly recommend this book to teachers as well as parents because there is so much interesting information, wrapped up in an exciting, suspense-filled package, to get young readers eagerly delving back into the past. Young and of course young at heart readers are in for an incredible treat."
"What would you do if your parents were lost in time? Would you risk everything to find them? The Shadow of the Tudor Rose by Wendy Leighton-Porter is a sensational children's historical adventure. Eleven-year-old twins Jemima and Joe Lancelot have come within hours of finding their lost parents. Now, with the help of their best friend, Charlie, and Jemima's noble Tonkinese cat, Max, the children are ready to set out on another epic adventure into the past. This time they arrive in Elizabethan England. The year is 1588, Queen Elizabeth the First has the throne, and disguised Spanish spies lurk everywhere. When they land, the time-travelers discover that they have been sent help on this trip in the form of a Spanish speaking cat, Fernando. The children and Max decide to team up with Fernando, and he agrees to help them find food and shelter. Things quickly become complicated when they find themselves thrown into a plot so confusing that they don't know who they should turn to for help. With their lives at stake, Joe, Jemima, Charlie, and Max struggle to understand what their mission is and who or what the Rose is. Will they be able to make sense of this mission before it is too late? Or will they find themselves lost in a dark conspiracy? Travel back in time to meet some of history's most fascinating and influential people in the thrilling ninth book in The Shadows From The Past series. Encounter such people as William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, and the indomitable Sir Francis Drake. Go on another exciting educational adventure with Joe, Jemima, Charlie, and Max as they delve deep into the intrigue surrounding England and the advance of the Spanish Armada!
Just when I thought that the books were nearing the end, the author brings in more excitement, more mystery, and more fascinating characters! I love how the author has entwined The Shadows From The Past series with Max's adventure series. Wendy Leighton-Porter has created such vivid characters, with every story chock-full of historical events and significance; the books are hard to put down once you start reading. I admire how she weaves history into every quest the children go on; it not only breathes life into history, but it also helps the reader remember all the details factually. I applaud the author's integrity to her readers; she clearly informs them of what is truth and what she has created within her stories. At the end of The Shadows From The Past books, the reader will find tasty historical tidbits that coincide with the story, written in such a way that the reader is certain to research more about the period. I highly recommend this book to children seven through eleven, though I believe that even older children will absolutely enjoy it!"
ALYSSA ELMORE for READERS' FAVORITE BOOK REVIEWS
My granddaughters will love the book. Meanwhile I'm left wondering (and wanting to know!) where and when the twins will next end up."
"I loved this book. Wendy Leighton-Porter has a great gift as she is able to weave stories based on actual historical events and to add just the right amount of speculation and creative imagination to them to make for an enjoyable and page turning read... Carefully written for children who are learning history, the Shadows from the Past series, of which this is the ninth adventure, is as entertaining for adults as well. I am truly a fan and am enjoying reading my way through the whole series."
IONA CARROLL, author
"Perhaps in some series, you would get a little bored by the time you reached the ninth adventure with the same set of characters, but never where the works and worlds of Wendy Leighton-Porter are concerned! This time the plot is set in one of my all time favourite periods of history: the Tudor times and particularly the Elizabethan era. Amid the ruffs and ruffians, Joe, Jemima, Charlie and Max have arrived just in time to land amongst a web of intrigue and conspiratorial figures. The plot? Invasion of dear old England, and a chance to overthrow the famed Virgin Queen! Not only do the children and their lovely kitty experience the dreadful sanitation ‘system’ of Tudor life and the threat of Spanish invasion at every turn, but Max even gets his own little spin off relationship with one of my other favourite figures from the time, the young Christopher Marlowe.
In terms of the overall plot, there’s loads that we learn here about the Guardians of Time and how their role is getting bigger and bigger in the story. The twins’ parents are still missing, but more and more information comes to light that keeps that long-standing plot element alive and well throughout. This adventure was a special highlight of the series for me just purely because of the language that Leighton-Porter uses throughout the tale. She brings the words and wisdom of this age of enlightenment and artistry to life with bright description and really accurate and interesting historical immersion. I’m always fascinated by the new details that even I, as a big British history fan, didn’t know before! Max has a wonderful central role in this novel too, which is always appreciated, and I actually felt like Charlie has suddenly grown up a lot before my eyes, which was kind of emotional and special!"
K. C. FINN, author
Reviews for Max's Hallowe'en Adventure
"It was the loveliest summer afternoon, perfect for a relaxing snooze... especially for a cat. Max was in the middle of a most pleasant dream involving being fed
strips of smoked salmon by a very pretty girl when he smelled smoke! Smoke? Gasp! That meant fire! Fire? That meant danger!!! Maybe lives must be saved. Where was everyone? He had to save the book,
the book that had started the whole series of adventures, with the twins’ parents becoming lost in the mists of time, trapped in the pages of history. He couldn’t let the book be destroyed, because
then Mum and Dad would be gone forever. However, when he plunged (not very) bravely into the smoke, he found himself back in the past, in 1644 to be exact, and he just knew that somehow this involved
another very uncomfortable adventure that he hadn’t asked for!
A snarky cat called Berry was waiting to take him back to a tumbledown old cottage that seemed strangely familiar, and in fact, he’d already been there in a previous side adventure of his own (Max’s Christmas Adventure). The whole place was quite spooky, and there was a weird old woman called Goodwife Clowes, who insisted he was necessary to help rescue her sister from an evil man. Combined with this rude cat’s annoying attitude (or should that be cattitude?), Max just longed to go home. Then the weird old woman told him that the evil man was a witchfinder and that’s why he was needed to rescue her sister. Witchfinder? Max asked himself (as did I) was that even a job? In a nutshell, the Witchfinder General (the man had even given himself a title!) was going from village to village, rounding up women who might be witches, or who people had accused of witchcraft. Many innocent people in the village of Mistley Thorn would suffer if Max didn’t help. Can he muster up the last remnants of what passed for courage to lend a hand?
Max has the unfortunate tendency to be thrust into situations that require great bravery and feats of derring-do when this is entirely not in his nature. Once again, he’ll have to pull out all the stops. A brief and memorably nasty encounter at the local jail reveals the enormity of the situation and the truly evil nature of Matthew Hopkins, who specialised in sniffing out witches, or in fact any old lady (like this one), with a broom and a beady stare. Lovely details place young readers right into the setting of All Hallows’ Even (which we know as Hallowe’en), with a suitably eerie atmosphere and an uncomfortable amount of danger. But the peril is too great, the Witchfinder and his men can’t be overcome by two mere cats, even talking ones. Inevitably, Max is sent back to his own era, to plan and return to defeat the Witchfinder. Now Max has the reassurance of Jemima, Joe, and brainy Charlie on his side as reinforcements! Watch out, Witchfinder. Max will be back!
Author Wendy Leighton-Porter, as always, has a treasure trove of extra detail for avid young fans of the series and this fifth mini adventure in Max’s side forays. The origins of Hallowe’en and the pagan festival of Samhain are explained, as are local suspicions of the time and details of why people were blamed for natural disasters and diseases. Lovely word play ensues as well with Max getting quite confused about names, although given the stressful situation, this is quite understandable. Max’s Hallowe’en Adventure is a delightful and deliciously scary prelude to the next adventure (the tenth) for Jemima, Joe, and Charlie, entitled The Shadow of the Witchfinder. It has a wonderfully spooky cover and I can’t wait to read it!"
FIONA INGRAM, author
"My favourite fictional cat, the gigantic Tonkinese named Maximus, Max for short, finds himself on a scary adventure all by himself travelling back in time to witchcraft and a horrible Witchfinder General. What I like about Wendy Leighton-Porter's Shadow of the Past series is the pace, attention to historical detail (there's an explanation in the back of the book about customs and beliefs of that time) and all round good storytelling. Left on a cliff hanger we wait eagerly to find out if Max, returning to the present, can persuade the twins and Charlie to venture back in time to save the unfortunate women accused of witchcraft in those superstitious times."
IONA CARROLL, author
"It is a pleasant afternoon until something upsets Max the talking Tonkinese cat's life again! Max's Hallowe'en Adventure by Wendy Leighton-Porter is a spine-chilling middle grade short story featuring Max, hero of The Shadows From The Past Series. In this fifth installment of Max's spin-off adventures, Max stumbles into another time and place. Not always the bravest of cats, Max can be rather reluctant to participate in anything that may involve water, running, jogging, or any sort of danger. Therefore, it does not bode well for Max when he finds himself at the mercy of a most terrifying person; a witch! Or is she? Max is confused. He doesn't know where he is, or why he is there and the woman that has summoned him has even befuddled his special owl amulet that can translate all languages including human/cat. This nightmare becomes even more intense when Max and a new friend find themselves the target of a malevolent man with a most horrifying agenda; to rid the surrounding areas of witches and sorcery! How has Max come to be so far away from home and his own time? Will he discover his mission before he becomes kindling?
Max's Hallowe'en Adventure (Max's Adventures Book Five) by Wendy Leighton-Porter is a hair-raising Halloween adventure short story complete with witches, cauldrons, and spooky black cats. Fans of Max the talking Tonkinese cat will be thrilled and chilled with this eerie episode. Written as a tie-in for its sister series, The Shadows From The Past, this book will have any young reader entwined in the turbulent times of the Salem Witch Trials when neither humans nor cats were safe. This story is the enticing prequel to the upcoming Shadows From The Past story, The Shadow of The Witchfinder; another awesome, historically accurate adventure that is certain to keep any young reader spellbound to the last page. With its edge of the seat action and tantalizing conclusion, this book is certain to have even the most reluctant readers begging for the next installment! As an avid fan of Ms. Leighton-Porter's books, I found that this newest story does not disappoint. I love how the author recounts the origins of Halloween and weaves a tragic part of history into such a fascinating tale, giving the reader a delicious morsel of what is to come. I appreciate how the author takes the time to explain history at the end of her books and encourages young readers to do their own follow-up studying. I would recommend this book for readers that love adventure, action, and Halloween."
READERS' FAVORITE BOOK REVIEWS
"Max, on his own this time, gets caught up in the witch trials of seventeenth century England. The reader is immediately drawn into the rollicking adventure of this endearing Tonkinese cat, told with both sensitivity and humour, but remains acutely aware of a much darker side: the reality of what, historically, really happened. The appalling cruelty inflicted in the name of 'religion' to those poor women is often overlooked in history as taught in the classroom, and the writer has done well to bring this to light in a delightfully readable story for children of all ages. I look forward to reading how the Witchfinder General, as the evil Matthew Hopkins called himself, gets his comeuppance... if he does."
OLIVER EADE, author
"Okay, so full disclosure here. Halloween is my favourite time of year, and Max is my favourite fictional cat, so this review is going to be filled with hype and joy. And indeed such tributes are very well deserved for author Wendy Leighton-Porter, who provides these fantastic spin offs to the Shadows From The Past series that not only supplement the primary series, but create their own amazing arcs and fun adventures in their own right. As we gear up for book ten in the main series (ten, can you believe it?), we now accompany our darling Tonkinese cat Max as he finds himself arriving in the middle of the seventeenth century in England with no idea why. But as the feisty feline begins to recognise the dark and magical world around him, the spook factor rises to all new heights on a chilling Halloween night…
There were so many cool connections to make in this short story between the previous adventures of Max and the future stories to be told in the main series, and it’s that kind of cohesion that makes the imaginative world of the author seem totally cohesive and connected. As we return to a familiar cottage from another adventure, the grim Matthew Hopkins is on the horizon. This wicked witch hunter is a truly chilling figure for a children’s series, and this short story introduces the major concepts for the next novel to make us wait with baited breath for it! I really liked the explanation of the origin of Halloween itself, which will certainly be educational for the target age range, and there’s an interesting juxtaposition between religious beliefs, the occult and persecution that takes place here which is sure to start some important conversations in children’s lives outside of the books."
K. C. FINN, author
"If you're like me, you've heard of the Salem Witch trials (1692-3) and the gross miscarriage of justice that happened then. But, I had not heard of the witch hunts in England (1644). So along with Max, I was dropped into a dark, smoky, spooky environment with no idea where we were or why we were there!
Max finds himself guided by a strange cat named Berry to what appears to be a an old cottage complete with a strange old lady named Goodwife Clowes. She briefly tells Max what is going on and tasks him with rescuing a trio of supposed witches captured by the WitchFinder! But Max may have a problem. He can talk! Like that won't be suspicious!
This tale is not really a stand-alone as it leads right into the next adventure in the author's Shadows From the Past series: The Witchfinder. So don't pass this one up. You'll miss the excitement and danger, and you won't know why Max is afraid...very afraid of having to go back to 17th century England!"
CHERYL CARPINELLO, author
Reviews for The Shadow of the Witchfinder
"Excellent story set in the period of the English Civil War. I am impressed by how much historical fact Wendy manages to impart in each of her stories without making it obvious that she is "teaching" her young readers."
LINDA J. HALL, USA
"Witches and wizards, cats and familiars, all go together, right? Especially at Samhain (otherwise known as Halloween). It’s a time when the curtain between the living and the dead falls apart and the two walk the earth together. But in a time when there are witchfinders and the penalty for being called a witch, or for a cat being accused of being a familiar (the witch’s evil spirit or demon companion), is death by fire, there is no safety net for those who are alone and in some way different from others. This is the seventeenth century, a scary place for three children and a cat named Max from the twenty-first century. The children and the cat are time-travelers, set on finding their parents who disappeared mysteriously on one of their own time-traveling adventures. But this time, their journey to the past has been called upon by a witch of the seventeenth century, in the hopes that they might be able to rid the small town of Mistley Thorn of the evil Witchfinder General before any more wrongly accused women are burned at the stake for the accusation of being a witch. It’s a dangerous mission. Are they up to it?
I have to admit I love a good time-traveling mystery and Wendy Leighton-Porter’s Middle-Grade fantasy novel, The Shadow of the Witchfinder, is certainly a good page-turning, action-filled adventure in time travel. Add a little magic and witchcraft and a bit of history to the mix and this story is well worth the read for people of all ages. Following Max the cat’s previous adventures in Shadows From the Past, this adventure explores further the fears of seventeenth-century people that led to such horrific events as the well documented Salem Witch Trials. As the plot thickens and the foursome (three children and a rather hesitant hero of a cat) get themselves into one predicament after another, the reader is so wrapped up in the development of the adventure that they are as surprised as the children in the story to discover that there might possibly be real witches. The use of language and description is well used as a powerful tool to drive the action to a fitting climax. I enjoyed this story immensely and look forward to more time-traveling adventures with Max the cat."
EMILY-JANE HILLS ORFORD for READERS' FAVORITE BOOK REVIEWS
"Continuing the fabulous Shadows from the Past series, the Lancelot twins and their serious-yet-clever friend Charlie travel back to the seventeenth century, together with Max the talking Tonkinese cat, in a desperate bid to save three ladies imprisoned by the notorious self-professed Witchfinder General, Matthew Hopkins. But for Max and the time-travelling children, they would have faced a cruel death; one that actually happened to about three hundred innocent women falsely accused of witchcraft by Hopkins. Full of adventure and well-placed humour (plus a gentle touch of the supernatural!), this novel can be read at different levels: by younger children as a fun way to learn a particularly dark period of English history and by young adults and above to question why humankind repeatedly allows evil to masquerade as ‘good’. The historical notes at the end of the book are very helpful and are also a measure of the huge amount of background historical research that goes into the writing of the Shadows series."
OLIVER EADE, author
"I just love reading Wendy Leighton-Porter’s time-travelling books with the three intrepid young people and of course, that wonderful character, Max the talking Tonkinese cat. This time poor Max has to return to finish what he narrowly escaped from in his Hallowe’en Adventure (Max’s Adventures Book Five). This time he has to bring Jemina, Joe and Charlie with him, right back in time to 1646 and there they have to face an evil character, Matthew Hopkins, who gave himself the gruesome title of Witchfinder General. Wonderful characters as always, Goody Clowes, an old woman who lives in the small village of Mistley Thorn in Essex with Blackberry Jack, another talking cat who is friends with our hero, Max. The children are needed to rescue Goody’s sister and her friends from the evil witchfinder. Will they succeed? Will Max save the day? And is Goody a witch or not? Tantalising questions and a fast-moving story which will hold the reader right till the end."
IONA CARROLL, author
FIONA INGRAM, author
"The Shadow of the Witchfinder marks the monumental fifteenth novel in this series, which I have had the extreme pleasure to read over the last few weeks. I must say, I think this is possibly the darkest and most emotive of the novels that I have read (which is truly saying something after a few notable examples!) and the danger has really gone up several notches. This, of course, makes it my favourite so far, and all the harder to know that I must wait for novel eleven like everyone else now! In this incredible adventure we continue the journey through seventeenth century England, where Max returns to the village of Mistley Thorn after his previous adventure. This time the children are with him, and they too find themselves under the scrutiny of the fearsome Witchfinder Matthew Hopkins, a thoroughly well developed villain from real history.
Goody Clowes is back! Oh my goodness there were so many new characters and returning figures to fall in love with in this story, and it’s the sweet and good elements juxtaposed with the harshness and cruelty of the time that makes it such a dynamic and exciting read from cover to cover. Wendy Leighton-Porter has slowly built up a repertoire of teaching important lessons during the Shadows From The Past series, and one of the most important that I have observed is the treatment of the underdog and the overlooked throughout historical times. She champions the characters who are authentically themselves, ahead of their time and different from the crowd, which makes for compelling and emotional reading as the series goes on. The questions raised in this fantastic slice of dark history about the true nature of what we label ‘good’ and ‘evil’ is a poignant message for children and adults alike."
K. C. FINN, author
Reviews for Max's Royal Adventure
"Wow! What a history lesson for young and old alike! I truly disliked history when I was back in school so didn't learn a lot. HOWEVER that has changed and now with kids at home that I am teaching I am learning as much history as them, if not more! This book is truly a WEALTH of information! Wendy has done a great job of interweaving Max into a story that really did happen. Yes, there were some fictional aspects but Wendy explains all those at the end. The TRUTH far outweighs the fiction. Incredibly well done... This is an EXCELLENT book. Kids learn history without even knowing they are learning. Thank you SO much."
L. POMEROY, parent, USA
"Max, short for Maximus, also referred to as 009 Lives (amongst his Guardian of Time secret agents) because a cat does, after all, have 9 lives, is a rather large Tonkinese cat. He’s a hero, but that’s not all: he’s also a time traveler who saves lives throughout history. And he can talk. Like humans, to humans; but he’s very selective to whom he talks. Max never knows where he’s going or when he’ll be sent back in time, not until he gets there. Then he has to sort it all out by listening and observing. Like the sunny afternoon when he was catnapping (as cats often do) underneath the oak tree behind his family’s home and, all of a sudden, he’s in a dense forest and it’s pouring with rain and there’s a man named Charles on the run. It turns out that there’s a price on Charles’s head because he’s the son of the tyrant King Charles I who was executed in 1649. History unravels as Max helps Charles in his escape, but it’s a sad time when the two have to part company and Max returns to his catnap under the oak tree in the present day.
Wendy Leighton-Porter loves history and she loves to share her passion for the past with young readers. Her recent Middle-Grade novel, Max’s Royal Adventure: Shadows from the Past, Book 16, takes young readers on another time-traveling jaunt with the feline hero, Max. The adventure is enough in itself, as the plot thickens with page-turning intensity and the characters are so realistic you feel as if you are part of their lives and the setting is so aptly described that you can feel the cold rain and the acorns falling down on your head. But there is so much more to this story and the other books in the series. Young readers are being introduced to history through the eyes of a very adventurous, time-traveling cat. I loved this story from start to finish: education and adventure go hand in hand with these books."
Emily-Jane Hills Orford for READERS' FAVORITE BOOK REVIEWS
"Max the talking Tonkinese has charmed my heart many a time over the sixteen adventures I’ve been on with him, and the fantastic hijinks of Max’s Royal Adventure certainly live up to the previous mantle. This is a fresh adventure with a new outlook after some particularly dark and moody moments for the feline and indeed his human friends. But now Max is on a mission to help a young man who just so happens to have royal blood: Charles Stuart, who is destined to become King Charles II of England. In this whimsical adventure we meet Charles as a youngster when his father has already lost the throne, and we’re thrust right into the middle of the English Civil War and all of its bloody, gory glory. As Max attempts to sidestep the violence and help the young prince to flee, a whole host of other colourful characters from history appear to both help and hinder on the way.
As a self-confessed fan of a history, an educator and also a very very British person, this is an adventure that ticks every box for me. Young readers will be delighted by the fascinating hijinks and fun of the plot, but there’s also plenty of real historical meat on the bones so that they can go and explore real figures like the Penderels after the reading experience is through. As always, Max is a star player in events and uses his unique personality to engage with history in his own way! I’m thoroughly satisfied with the amazing story that has been told so far, and yet at the same time there’s a longing for sooooo much more. For now, I’ll wait for Wendy Leighton-Porter to release the next adventure. In the meantime, I think I might have to start reading the series all over again!"
K. C. FINN, author
"Again, through the exploits of the endearing Tonkinese cat, Max, Wendy Leighton-Porter has brought to life a significant historical event in a tale that should appeal to all ages. The essence of the gripping story of Charles Stuart's evasion of capture by Cromwell's Parliamentary forces is all here. Entertaining embellishments added by (and including) Max, such as being pelted with acorns by a talking squirrel, will help to hold the younger reader's attention. The writer also makes clever use of the cat's own curiously unfeline personality (he hates climbing trees) to recreate real characters from the past: the future King Charles II, Captain Careless, the Penderel brothers and others. In conjunction with the author's 'Shadows' series, the Max books are, I believe, quite unique in being both enjoyable and educational where history is concerned."
OLIVER EADE, author
Reviews for The Shadow of the Great Fire
"The Shadow of The Great Fire by Wendy Leighton-Porter is a perfect pandemic treat for the middle-grade reader. When twins Joe and Jemima Lancelot, their best friend Charlie, and Jemima's large talking Tonkinese cat Special Agent Max, step through a portal in time, we never know what to expect. What we can be certain of is that their new time-traveling adventure will be riddled with danger, intrigue, and the wild hope of finally finding Joe and Jemima's parents. I am always impressed with the ingenuity, love, and compassion of the friends as they search for James and Isabel Lancelot. As a parent, I am very particular about providing my son with educational stories. I truly enjoy Ms. Leighton-Porter's Shadows of The Past Series, as the books are historically accurate and the author includes dossiers on the central elements of history and how she changed circumstances to include them in her stories. The books are so educational, I have used several titles in the series as a base for history class in my son's schooling. The characters are charming, the adventures thrilling, and Max's attitude (and delightful fear of rodents) keep us anxiously waiting for the next installment. Now, with the introduction of a new twist, fans of Shadows of The Past series simply do not want to miss this book! Although this is not the first book in the series, it is an excellent standalone."
ALYSSA ELMORE for READERS' FAVORITE BOOK REVIEWS
"Ms. Leighton-Porter has once again brought a pivotal moment of English history to life through the continuing adventures of twins Joe and Jemima Lancelot, their good friend Charlie, and Max the Tonkinese cat. This time the children and Max meet the famous diarist Samuel Pepys, scientist Isaac Newton, and King Charles II (though the kids don't know Max is already acquainted with His Majesty, from an earlier solo adventure). They also come within a whisker (sorry, Max!) of catching up to the twins' parents ..."
L. HALL, reader, USA
"Like the other books in the series, this one doesn’t disappoint. There is lots of adventure coupled with history to attract young readers while at the same time educate them. The plot develops steadily and the characters are well developed. For fans of this series, it’s like joining a group of best friends on another exciting journey into the past. And you have to love the cat, Max. The author knows her history and, whilst some of the details are altered to serve the purpose of the story’s plot, the entire story is a marvelous re-telling of history. You can actually feel the heat of the devastating fire and smell the rot of a city still infested with a devastating plague. And, as in the previous books in the series, the author includes a concise glossary of interesting historical facts at the end of the novel. Another great read from an inspiring author."
EMILY-JANE HILLS ORFORD for READERS' FAVORITE BOOK REVIEWS
"This gripping novel brings to life a cataclysmic historical event in a way that is a true joy to read. The banter between the Lancelot twins, their learned little friend, Charlie, and, of course, the talking Tonkinese cat, Max, is always amusing and well used by the writer to show their very well-defined characters. And Max has, of course, his own agenda. But it all comes together. Maybe they'll not be able to prevent the fire from destroying most of London, but because of Max and his royal connection in a previous escapade, fake news can be dispelled. The author skillfully brings into her story key figures of the time, including Sir Christopher Wren, Sir Isaac Newton, Samuel Pepys, Robert Hooke, and John Evelyn... and Max's royal connection, King Charles II himself. The description of the Great Fire is beautifully handled. So vivid the reader can feel the heat of the flames. I've passed the novel on to my eleven-year-old granddaughter, a fan of the Shadows series. She'll love it, I know."
OLIVER EADE, author
"Author Wendy Leighton-Porter is a timeless favorite of mine, and I was once again terribly excited to enter the world of Shadows From The Past. I cannot recommend this series enough to children and their families to bond over, and for the many educational benefits and historical learning opportunities that the books present. In this adventure, I was enraptured by the grimy heat of London in its plague-ridden state, and the characters who come into play within this new tale offer insights and realistic depictions of what it would be like to live at that time. This immersive quality allows us to learn along with the children, and of course, Max the reluctant adventurer cat offers plenty of laughs and hijinks to juxtapose the high drama. Overall, I would highly recommend The Shadow of the Great Fire for readers who enjoy immersive historical adventures with strong characters and great atmospheric writing."
K.C. FINN, author