By Ekta R. Garg
June 5, 2013
Rated: Borrow it
When a young man receives a less-than-desirable assignment in his history class, he doesn’t realize he’s about to embark on a life-altering adventure. He just knows that his new teacher, the series title character, Ms. Wickware, has something to do with it. Author Penny Estelle continues her commitment to reaching young adult readers with historical facts in an accessible way in Ride of a Lifetime, the second book of her series entitled “The Wickware Sagas.”
Jim Abernathy has just enrolled at Langdon Middle School, and he tries to establish from the start that other kids shouldn’t mess with him. When he walks into his new history class, he presents himself as a formidable young man. Ms. Wickware doesn’t bat an eye at his show of bravado, quietly but firmly reassuring him that she won’t tolerate bullying in her classroom. Instead she tries to help him assimilate into the class by turning the subject to the new assignment: every student must choose the name of a historical figure from a box and then do an oral report on that figure.
When Jim draws the name Sybil Ludington, he becomes skeptical. A girl? Once again Ms. Wickware remains undaunted, and Jim steps out of the classroom and into the time of the Revolutionary War. Things really get eerie for Jim when he actually meets Sybil Ludington, but he soon realizes that even girls can play a significant role in their country’s history.
Author Estelle uses her experience in the school system to write a book right at eye level for middle grade readers. Her commendable efforts in wanting to introduce lesser-known historical figures will encourage teachers who use the books in “The Wickware Sagas” in the classroom. Everyone knows about Paul Revere, but other people—like Ludington, who rode twice the distance Revere did for a similar task—also made substantial contributions in helping our country become what it is, and Estelle clearly has a strong desire to share the histories of those people with younger readers.
While the beginning of the book may feel rushed—readers will feel Estelle’s love for her subject matter and her excitement to dive into it—the spirit of the book and the series is in the right place. Estelle could have spent a little more time establishing Jim’s character and how uncomfortable he feels in a new school, but she makes up for this minor oversight with the meat of the story.
I highly recommend Estelle’s Ride of a Lifetime as well as the first book in the series, Billy Cooper’s Awesome Nightmare.
What the ratings mean:
Bookmark it!–Read this book and then buy it and add it to to your own collection. It’s definitely worth it!
Borrow it–Check this one out from the library; it’s a worthy read, but think twice before spending your hard-earned money on it.
Bypass it–Free time is precious. Don’t spend it on this book!