Flashback Four: The Lincoln Project by Dan Gutman, 2016
Children’s novel for grades 3-8; time travel, historical fiction
David, Luke, Julia, and Isabel are four normal twelve-year-old Boston kids who don’t know each other, until they each receive a mysterious message asking them to come to an office in the Hancock Tower. When they arrive, they are met by Chris Zandergoth, an extremely wealthy woman who has dedicated her fortune to developing time travel. Now, she is sending her four recruits back in time to take a photograph of Abraham Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address. The mission sounds simple enough. But when David, Luke, Julia, and Isabel arrive in nineteenth-century Gettysburg, they encounter one problem after another.
With this book, popular author Dan Gutman begins a new series that will probably be just as popular the Baseball Card Adventures, the Genius Files, and the My Weird School series. Readers who have outgrown Mary Pope Osbourne’s Magic Treehouse series may want to try this one next. Although the main characters and the set-up are different, the two series are similar in that they feature time travel and effectively blend information and adventure.
I’m not sure I would hail this book as a classic in the making or as a potential award-winner, but it does have a lot going for it. It has an exciting plot, a unique tone, (Gutman frequently addresses the reader directly, sometimes as a way to add information that the characters don’t know) and memorable characters. It will appeal to boys and girls equally, and it is appropriate for a fairly wide age range. It’s written at about a fourth-grade level in my opinion, but since the main characters are older and much of the content will be educational even for older kids, I don’t see any reason that this book would be too juvenile for middle school readers.
Additional information for teachers and parents:
This book has not been given a Lexile score, and other leveled reading information is not available.