Reviews for the Shadows from the Past series
"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... Also, I was wondering, when is the Shadow of The Tudor Rose going to be available? I can hardly wait!"
ALYSSA ELMORE for READERS' FAVORITE, USA
"I am writing to tell you that I bought The Shadow of Atlantis last month and have indulged in the five books these last few weeks. I really enjoy them."
AMELIE PRIESTMAN, aged 9
"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
"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, South Africa
"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.
The central characters, twins Jemima and Joe, go to live with their uncle after the mysterious disappearance of their parents. With the help of their uncle - an archeology professor, their neighbourhood friend Charlie and the giant Tonkinese cat Max, Jemima and Joe embark on a time-travel adventure to the ancient city of Atlantis.
This book has all the elements for a great children's adventure; footsteps in a dusty attic, a mysterious wooden chest, an ancient magical book, a key on a gold chain and an inexplicable disappearance. The children's characters are well constructed and enable the reader to readily identify with them, drawing you into the story and keeping you there, engrossed.
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.
The Shadow of Atlantis is the first in a planned series of 16 books (the first 6 are currently available) and in each one the twins travel to a different era, where they must use their historical knowledge to help the people they meet. The central thread through the series is the twins searching for their parents, but each book in the series can be read as a standalone. The book is well paced and maintains the interest right until the very last page.
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 seies 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.
You’ll love the main characters, particularly Jemima and Max. You’ll also come to love and loathe some of the citizens of Atlantis and see a curious reaction to the news that Atlantis will be destroyed. The antagonists are particularly sinister, possibly because they are undeniably cast into that role from the descriptions of their physical appearance, but even they have a beautiful temple to dwell in and a cat that isn’t evil.
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
"My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was an absolutely delightful young adult fantasy novel, and throughout most of the book, all I found myself thinking was how much my daughter would relish this book. But amazingly, I enjoyed it, too. As far as I am concerned, that gives even more credence to my claim that this is a book well worth your time and energy (or at least that of your children).
The positives in this book comprise quite a list. The book is clean, adventuresome, intriguing, historical (maybe pseudo), witty, and never scary. It involves time travel, and the cat is the acclaimed hero! Thankfully this appears to be a new series, and the first chance I get, I plan to introduce this book to my daughter.
As a side note, this 5-star review is a bit out of the norm for me when it comes to young adult and fantasy novels. And that can only be explained by the author’s writing prowess. The story flows well and it is easy to read without becoming cheesy. Rarely am I able to recommend a young adult book to all."
RUTH HILL, My Devotional Thoughts, 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.
Joe and Jemima live with their uncle after their parents vanished under mysterious circumstances. One day while exploring their parents possessions they find an old book. They remember how much their father treasured the book and decide to look inside. The children are unaware that their actions will catapult them into a different time, where they'll uncover information about their parents, try to save lives, and end up fearing for their own. The simple act of opening the book will change their lives forever.
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 book is excellent. The Shadow of Atlantis, seriously, is a wonderful book and I look forward to reading the remaining books in the Shadows of the Past series. Wendy Leighton-Porter has crafted an adventurous and magical tale that will capture the reader right from the start. This book acquaints us with the story of three friends and a precocious cat as they journey to an old world where they make new friends. Yes, they make a few enemies as well and, oh yeah, they happen to save some people while they are at it, too ...
... I was reminded of The Magic Tree House series as I read this book. I appreciated and enjoyed that the author took the time to include notes at the end, which explained some of her decisions in writing about Atlantis.
I highly recommend this book to boys and girls ages 8 and up. I also will strongly recommend it to my own ten-year-old daughter. I am positive that she will adore it. Katrina, I believe, may simply fall in love with Max, should she read this enchanting story.
No doubt about it, this is a five star book."
STANLEY & KATRINA, 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.
When they made it to Atlantis, there was a realism I didn't expect. I expected more mysticism and beauty. But instead felt the realism of Atlantis as a place, and I appreciated that. 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 (Mauve Square Publishing, 2012).
After the parents of twins Jemima and Joe inexplicably disappear, the two are sent to live with their Uncle Richard in London. While searching in their uncle's attic, the twins, their giant Tonkinese cat, and new neighborhood friend find themselves transported to a faraway land they discover to be Atlantis. The modern group makes friends easily in their new old home and discover lost secrets. They also attract the attention of those with evil intentions, adding to the adventure and suspense.
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 and lets the children in the book solve their own problems.
I highly recommend "The Shadow of Atlantis" and look forward to other books in the series including "Shadow of the Pyramids," Shadow of the Trojan Horse," and more."
VALERIE ORMOND, USA
"This chapter book by author, Wendy Leighton-Porter is certainly for the adventure seeking kid. This is her first in a series and really does not disappoint.
Even though I am much older than the 8 year old up that would be recommended age group to read this, I found myself engrossed in this book.
It had everything the young adventurer wants, fun characters who are relatable, mystery and a little mayhem too.
This book is a must read and gets 5 stars!"
NAILA MOON, Colorado, 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."
"Books that lead us into different worlds are always fun. This time the children in the story are transported into the world of Atlantis by a book. There they discover some truths about their missing parents, meet new friends and have a wonderful adventure. Their cat Max also goes along for the journey and proves to be anything, but a normal cat. The Shadows of Atlantis is a great book for young people. They will engage with the characters and enjoy the adventure. I look forward to the next instalment."
ASHLEY HOWLAND, USA
"This was a wonderful book! I completely enjoyed reading it! It’s the perfect book for middle schoolers! It’s written so well, and it’s just a great, fun read!
The first chapter was the only slow part for me, as it was a little slow going and a tad bit wordy, but I promise you, it’s worth it to keep going. It’s just a fun, magical adventure. There’s such a good amount of history in this book. It’s a perfect year for the younger kids, it’s not too scary, and it’s actually got something to teach them too which is wonderful! It’s got both an appeal for boys and for girls, with a brother/sister duo heading it up, plus an awesome talking cat!
I really think this was a nice book, and perfect for the middle school age, but I honestly enjoyed it as well. It’s got a nice adventure, and some awesome magic to it. Check this one out!"
CIANNA, Sunshine & Mountains Books, USA
"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
"... a touching story about two children losing their parents and investigating Atlantis, with the help of Max. my favourite character. It makes me want more and more from the story, but will the children find their parents that are lost in time? The sacrifice of the bull was a little gruesome but the book is a mystery that I will remember forever and pass on. I have recommended it to my friends and you are now my most favourite author.
Mum read the book in two evenings and she couldn't put it down. Her comment was "It was so good I just wanted to carry on and find out what happened. I was sad when I came to the end of the book."
G. GILCHRIST, aged 11
"I really enjoyed this wonderful book. It was brilliant. My favourite part was when Max talked and when Jemima disappeared into the temple ... I cannot wait for the next one."
LILY RICHARDSON, aged 9
"I really enjoyed the book. My favourite part was when Max got to talk. I wish I had a cat like that. I can't wait for the next one."
POPPY RICHARDSON, aged 7
"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
"A thoroughly enjoyable and exciting read. Children are drawn into the adventures which are both imaginative and informative while excitement keeps the story flowing from the first to last page, leaving the reader keenly anticipating the further exciting adventures still to come in this series."
"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:
"What it’s About: The Shadow of Atlantis is the first book in a series featuring 10 year-old twins Joe and Jemima, their friend Charlie, and the talking Tonkinese cat, Max. We first meet Joe and Jemima when they go to live with their Uncle Richard after their parents’ mysterious disappearance. When their friend Charlie comes over for a visit, they stumble upon their parents’ most prized possession in an old wooden chest in the attic: an ancient book titled Shadows From the Past. To unlock its magical powers, the children must first solve a riddle and when they do, they find themselves (and Max) whisked away to the past in the mythical city of Atlantis.
Soon, the friends find themselves warmly welcomed by a family in Atlantis, but not everyone is so keen on accepting these mysterious strangers within their midst – - especially when they begin to prophecize about the destruction of their beloved city of Atlantis. Will Joe, Jemima, Charlie (and Max) be able to convince their new-found friends to leave their home before Atlantis is submerged forever?
My Thoughts: Wendy Leighton-Porter has written a fantastic series of books (i.e., Shadows From the Past) filled with mystery, suspense, and adventure. If you’ll recall, we helped to promote the fourth book in the series, The Shadow of The Pyramid back in March. The Shadow of Atlantis is the first book in a series of 15 planned stories that all involve time-travel to historically relevant eras and/or locations including Atlantis, ancient Greece, ancient Egypt, Arthurian times, among others. In each story, the children travel back and encounter the people of that time (sometimes legendary – King Tut for example) and based on their knowledge of historical events (e.g., the destruction of Atlantis) attempt to change the course of history by helping out new friends.
In this first book, the stage is set for the larger plot line that is threaded throughout and underlies all the books in the series; namely, the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Joe and Jemima’s parents. In each book, the twins discover that their parents had previously visited the same location. In Shadow of Atlantis, they are referred to as the other strangers who also foretold of the destruction of Atlantis. Thus, the mystery that underlies all the books consists of determining the following: a) What happened to the parents? b) Where are they currently? c) How can they return to the present? Each book brings the children one step closer to solving the mystery.
I found the books to be reminiscent of Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Tree House books. In those books, the kids also travel back in time to historically important times and places. Also, they usually had a task to complete or a mystery to solve. One mystery or task was completed within four books (in most cases). The Shadows From the Past series has a similar feel. The children also travel back in time to specific and infamous locations and eras and they also have a mystery to solve, but it will (I think) take the 15 books to finally solve it. I like the way the books are stand-alone as well as tied together. It definitely makes me want to read the next book too!
The main characters in the book, twins Joe and Jemima, are very likable and believable. It was easy to immediately connect with them and feel compassion toward them because of the loss of their parents. Add Charlie, the good-natured next-door neighbor and Joe’s best friend, along with Max, the wise and beautiful (but perhaps a bit scaredy) talking Tonkinese cat who witnessed the disappearance of Joe and Jemima’s parents and I feel like this was a solid collection of main characters that I would want to keep reading about book after book. That being said, I feel like their development could be fleshed out a bit more and perhaps this will occur over time in the next books.
I really appreciated how the author incorporated her knowledge of the history of Atlantis and ancient Greece within the story. She did a great job of including little snippets of information which contributed to the educational value of the story. For example, Varna, the little girl that our main characters encounter in Atlantis, acts as a tour guide and describes the lay of the land in the following way:
‘From up up here there’s a fantastic view down over the city,’ said Varna with a sweep of her hand. ‘The palace is built on the “acropolis”, which is what we call the highest part of the town. We’re surrounded by the sea, but you can also see our fields and vineyards. We’re lucky that crops grow easily here and anything we can’t produce ourselves we buy from the traders’ ships.’
Through this short paragraph, we learn the definition of the word “acropolis”, we learn about the geography of that part of the world and we gain insight into the way of life for those living in ancient Greece. These types of passages are scattered throughout the book.
I do have to comment on the cover image as well as ALL of the covers in the Shadows From the Past series. They are so beautiful and eye-catching! I just love them and I’m immediately drawn to the book because of the covers. So, I don’t normally do this, but I do want to give a shout-out to Berni Stevens who designed all of the book covers in the series. Check out her website.
My Bottom Line: Shadows 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
"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, Johannesburg
"Brilliant story. I cant wait to get the sequel to Joe , Jemima and Charlie's adventure in this great series of books."
"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."
"Wendy has created some delightful characters in Shadow of the Minotaur. I fell in love with the central players in the first book, Shadow of Atlantis, and I really cared about them in this one too! The adventure, as the title suggests, takes place in Ancient Greece, and the story contains a lovely mix of thrills and humour. Kids will love this - it's ideal for dreaming those long summer hours away! I'm very much looking forward to seeing where the adventure goes next!"
"Really enjoy these journeys through myth and legend. History with a twist. The characters are well drawn and the action is exciting. Can't wait for the next one!"
"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."
"Enjoyed the first book-The Shadow of Atlantis-and was anxious to read more. I liked this story based on the Greek myth of Theseus and the minotaur of Crete. Always one of my favorites, Wendy's story adds a new spin on this adventure. Joe, Jemima, Charlie, and Max the cat continue the search for Joe and Jemima's parents and find themselves on a ship along with Theseus and other young Athenians on their way to Crete as sacrifices to the Minotaur. The kids find out that heroes don't always act heroic, and I think this is one of the main points of the story. Don't want to spoil this for others. Definitely would encourage young readers and those young-at-heart to read this and the other books in the Shadows of the Past series."
"I truly enjoyed it. Ancient Greek history is a passion of mine.... I did my master's thesis on Philip of Macedon and Alexander the Great. Love the way you weave the story elements with the myth."
BARBARA MOJICA, USA
"You really want to read the amazing adventure with the threesome and max - see what they get up to next!"
MR T. J. KNOWLES-JACKSON
Reviews for The Shadow of the Trojan Horse
"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."
"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
"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
"I read Shadow of the Pyramid in a day and a half because it was so gripping! The series just gets better and better and I'm already excited about the next book!"
EVIE PERFECT, aged 9
"This is a fast paced, fun, well-written and somewhat educational book. The author presents alot 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
"Another intriguing 'Shadow From The Past' that delivers history to children, packed with fun: This time the twins find themselves in the land of the pharaohs as they continue their time travels (plus Max the Tonkinese cat) to trace their parents lost somewhere in the past. Again, Wendy's latest novel will delight children with an action-packed story at the same time as introducing them to one of the most enigmatic rulers of one of the most mysterious of ancient worlds. Another must get!"
"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."
" ... Okay, I know. I am not the target audience for this book. This book was written for young people. This book is meant for new readers to about age twelve in my opinion. I still got a kick out of the book. This book is very action filled. This would appeal to the younger reader. And a talking cat is always fun ..."
LYLE APPLEYARD, Canada
"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
"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 - August 2016
Reviews for The Shadow of Camelot
"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!)
"Another adventure unfolds as twins Jemima and Joe, Charlie (best friend and neighbour) and Max, their talking (yes, talking!) Tonkinese cat, embark on yet another adventure in The Shadow of Camelot. The twins have still not found their missing parents, trapped somewhere in the past, and have been on five amazing adventures so far with the help of an ancient magical book and the key to open it – kept safely on a chain around Jemima’s neck. They always get hints and clues to their parents’ whereabouts and hope that the next adventure will be the one to restore their mother and father. In the meantime, they live with their studious Uncle Richard, who is a Professor of Archaeology at London University and doesn’t suspect a thing.
The magic begins with the Prologue, and the wizard Merlin hard at work, trying to see if a prophecy will come true, and if he can summon help from the future. His assistant is a gorgeous black cat appropriately named Midnight. In the meantime, fast forward to the future where Joe catches a book as it falls off a shelf in Uncle Richard’s study. Is that a voice he hears calling for help …? It seems to come from between the pages of the book entitled King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Using Jemima’s key, the kids and Max (feeling as reluctant as ever about yet another foray into foreign climes) open their ancient book which had served as a portal before to the past and arrive … in Merlin’s cave. This adventure is definitely going to be different because magic is at work – they are needed for a very special purpose, actually Max (to his horror) seems to be the one who is needed the most, in order to fulfil a prophecy and assist Arthur in defeating his greatest foe.
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
"The latest in the series which mixes a present day adventure with ancient myths. My granddaughter and I have been waiting for this one and it does not disappoint. The usual characters are seen in a new light and I laughed out loud when the baddie, Aelle, is terrified of a cat!. Do read it and enjoy it too."
"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!"
"This is another great book from this author. This is a great series and well worth reading. This particular book is all about Camelot and Max, the brave cat (!) as always is the star. A good story, well written and fun to read."
"This is the latest book in this time-travelling adventure series and it does not disappoint. The children and not forgetting Max, the time-travelling cat find themselves in Camelot and danger looms around them but they aren't alone. This is an excellent take on the King Arthur legend and will be enjoyed by children and adults alike."
"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!"
"The Shadow of Camelot is the sixth book in the Shadows From the Past middle grade series, featuring 10 year-old twins Joe and Jemima Lancelot, their friend Charlie Green, and the talking Tonkinese cat, Max. As with the previous installments, the children travel to the past through an ancient book entitled Shadows From the Past. Unlike previous books in the series, the children easily solve the riddle needed to unlock the book’s magical powers, because magic is already in the air when a particular book in their uncle’s library (King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table) insists on being read!
In this installment of the series, the children and Max the cat are whisked away to the land of Camelot, ruled by the legendary King Arthur. But for the first time, it won’t be the children who are the heroes of the tale. It is time for Max the cat to step in, (along with the help of the brilliantly-named Midnight, a black cat who has been haunting his dreams), and help turn the tide of a looming battle between the brutal Saxons and their friends in Camelot."
"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. For you information, I have also reviewed The Shadow of Atlantis and we are also excited to be hosting a Blog Tour promoting The Shadow of Atlantis in October. There are still some spots available for hosting!
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.
My Bottom Line: The Shadow of Camelot is another adventure-filled, time-travel tale featuring the endearing trio of child heroes Joe, Jemima, and Charlie, along with their very special cat, Max, who become part of history as they travel to the mythical land of Camelot. 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+"
Mom Rating: ★★★★★
RENEE CORMIER, Mother Daughter Book Reviews, Canada
Reviews for The Shadow of the Norman Arrow
"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
"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
"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
"I have read your new book and I think it is amazing and very gripping. I can't count how many times I have read it."
EVIE PERFECT, aged 10
Reviews for Max's Christmas Adventure
"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."
"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 eighth 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
"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 have just finished The Shadow of the Two Princes and I reckon it is the best one yet."
"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