Journey to the Alamo
Seventh-grade teacher Mr. Barrington proffers a trunk full of historical artifacts to help Hannah Taylor write a report on Texas history. The trunk magically transports Hannah, her brother Nick, and her friend Jackie back in time to the 1836 siege preceding the Battle of the Alamo. The children meet David Crockett, William Travis, Susannah Dickinson, and other major historical figures on the Texian side of the conflict. As the day of the battle dawns, they realize they must find the missing trunk and return to the 21st century, or risk being trapped inside the Alamo when the battle is lost and slaughter begins.
Cuate is capitalizing on the current popularity of magic in children’s fiction to stimulate interest in history for middle-level readers. She succeeds in creating excitement during the climax, when the children can’t find the trunk and risk their lives. The rest is less successful. The plot tugs the children from one personage to another in succession, without giving the reader more than a superficial introduction. Hannah is supposed to be the protagonist, but Nick is the one who performs the crucial actions. I hope future volumes of Mr. Barrington’s Mysterious Trunk series will take more time to develop the characters.