Flashback Four #1: The Lincoln Project

Flashback Four #1: The Lincoln Project
Author(s)
Age Range
8+
Release Date
February 23, 2016
ISBN
978-0062374417
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In New York Times bestselling author Dan Gutman's all-new series, which blends fascinating real history with an action-packed and hilarious adventure, four very different kids are picked by a mysterious billionaire to travel through time and photograph some of history's most important events. This time, the four friends are headed to 1863 to catch Abraham Lincoln delivering his famous Gettysburg Address. They'll have to work together to ask the right questions, meet the right people, and capture the right moment. And most important—not get caught! Back matter separating fact from fiction and real black-and-white photographs make Flashback Four the perfect mix of true history and uproarious fun.

Editor review

1 review
Time Travel via AV Equipment!
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
Four children in Boston are approached by Pasture Company CEO, Chris Zandergoth to take part in an amazing opportunity. Using a team of engineers, Ms. Zandergoth has managed to make a SUPER smart board; one that allows people to travel back in time. She is using this technology to further her own personal goal of getting photographs of famous historical events. Her missing photograph is that of Lincoln delivering his Gettysburg Address. The children are skeptical at first, even though they have no trouble fooling their parents into signing their permission slips, so David travels back in time to watch Wilt Chamberlain score 100 points in a basketball game. Convinced that this is the real deal, the children prepare to travel to the past, getting fitted with proper garments, learning Civil War era slang, and being given instruction on how to use a high end camera and a Text Through Time device. Having been given the standard instructions to lay low and not change history, the four go back... to the day before Lincoln's speech. After meeting Tad Lincoln, the four have to find some food and a place to stay, and show up in time to take their photo. Things go badly wrong when the local police think they are trying to shoot the president, but Lincoln himself manages to save the day.
Good Points
Gutman, who has utilized time travel in both his Baseball Card Adventures and Qwerty Stevens books, does a good job at making time travel believable yet again, even though the smart board is a more technological device than the baseball cards! I especially appreciated that the group was not traveling back in time in order to "fix" history-- Ms. Zandergoth's collecting of photographs had some historical value, but was mainly selfish. Why else would anyone go to such trouble to make time travel work?

There is a lot of diversity in the cast of characters, and this is even mentioned by one of them. David is African-American, Luke is slightly overweight, Isabel is of Hispanic descent, and Julia has wealthy parents who let her shop a lot but are largely absent. Ms. Vandergoth has ALS and is in a wheelchair. This is mentioned by supporting characters, but never by Ms. Vandergoth herself.

The historical details are interesting, and Gutman includes a brief description at the end of the book about what events he made up and which were real. Tad Lincoln's problems are briefly addressed, John Wilkes Booth makes an unrealistic appearance, and the children get introduced to many facets of ordinary life that were at odds with the present day. Gutman's goofy humor and fast paced writing make all of his books good choices for middle grade readers, and this series is no exception.
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