Tom Sawyer’s Dark Plot (Adventures in Time – 1849)
Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Jim, and their time-traveling friend, Zane Rasmussen, team up once again in this second installment of Champlin’s Adventures in Time series. Tom, bored after the excitement from the events in Tom and Huck’s Howling Adventure wanes, decides to stir things up by concocting a Bigfoot tale in which he and his friends will once again be pronounced heroes. All goes to plan until, ironically, there’s another sighting unconnected with the scheming youngsters. They find they must investigate this seemingly true account without blowing the cover on their own “stretcher” story.
In this story told in multiple points of view, one interesting element is that the presumed bad guys aren’t truly evil—just men who have made bad choices. Along with Tom and the gang, readers may almost feel sorry for the unfortunate antagonists who seem riddled with ill luck. While the Bigfoot question is never really answered, the author leaves plenty of clues for both believers and detractors.
Of interest to fans of time-slip stories are conversations about things such as electricity and the upcoming Civil War. Zane’s time travel is only touched upon in this volume, but the general idea is easy enough to surmise for readers who missed the first book. The dialect of some characters is a bit grating, but necessary for authenticity. Although the story takes a meandering course, it is a satisfying and engaging tale—perfect for middle-grade readers who would enjoy a new spin on Mark Twain’s classics.