Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Stonewall Hinkleman and the Battle of Bull Run, Michael Hemphill and Sam Riddleburger

The Teaser: Stonewall Hinkleman (yup, that's his real name) is not a happy camper. Literally. His parents have dragged him out to another civil war reenactment where he'll spend all weekend in the hot sun, pretending to blow a bugle and watch grown men and women running around playing "army." And all because his stupid ancestor went and got himself shot in the butt during the first Battle of Bull Run. But when a mysterious, magical bugle transports Stonewall back to the actual battle in 1861, he knows his days of just skating by as an anachronistic re-enactor and sneaking his gameboy onto the battlefield are over. Using what little knowledge he has from the future, Stonewall must escape the flying bullets and artillery rounds, figure out how to get back home again, stop another time traveler from changing the fate of the entire civil war, and just maybe save his ancestor from the inglorious fate of getting shot in the butt.

What Stands Out: Oh man, this was a fun read. Stonewall doesn't spend any time being shocked or not believing that he's actually traveled back in time, he just jumps right into the action. I knew exactly nothing about the Battle of Bull Run before I read this book and it does an amazing job of tricking you into learning by weaving historical facts into the non-stop action and hilarious hijinks. Stonewall is a kid I would love to know, he's funny and frustrated but quick to make decisions and doesn't waste any time with the self-pity that usually goes along with these people out of time kind of books. Ashby, the maybe love interest also named after a famous civil war figure, is another great character. She's determined and brave, she knows what she needs to do and she gets it done.

What Didn't Work: I'm still a little sketchy on how the time travel devices work, but it seems like they're setting up of a sequeal, so maybe things will become more clear in future installments. Not understanding this had zero impact on my enjoyment of the book though.

Anything Extra Special?:  I bet you don't recognize the name Sam Riddleburger, but you probably know who Tom Angleberger is, right? The guy behind Origami Yoda and the new Fake Mustache books? Well, Sam and Tom are actually one and the same. So if you liked the humor in those books, know that Riddleburger and his co-author Michael Hemphill bring the same brand of crazy to this book.

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