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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Time Villains expects its readers to have a pretty good vocabulary, throwing words like "nefarious" around enthusiastically. Libraries and research are important to the characters and the story -- Javi's best friend Will has been called Wikipedia, Wiki for short, most of his life. Historical figures including Blackbeard the Pirate, Cleopatra, Mozart, and Rosa Parks are important to the story, as are fictional characters including Captain Ahab, Don Quixote, and Dr. Jekyll, as well as mythical beings like the spider goddess Anansi, and an afterword explains a bit more about them. Javier's familty is Puerto Rican, so there's some Spanish dialogue and a lot of detail about Puerto Rican cuisine. His father is always quoting, in English, assorted Puerto Rican proverbs that lose something in translation.
Strong messages of diversity, as characters from many different cultures and traditions come together for heroic causes and fun hijinks. Friendship, courage, resourcefulness, and determination abound, as well as creative problem-solving. Plus, as a kid points out to Blackbeard the Pirate, you might be able to avoid your evil fate if you change your evil ways.
Positive Role Models
Professorial 12-year-old Wiki, budding chef Javi, and Javi's younger sister, indomitable pirate-queen-in-training Brady, show courage, resourcefulness, creative thinking, and a lot of skill at putting their talents to work at the right moment. The kids all have strong, supportive, loving families. The adults and kids who come to their rescue, from spider goddess Anansi to Kid Mozart, bring powerful tools and unexpected insights.
Violence & Scariness
Blackbeard was an extremely scary pirate who came to a gory end in real life, which gets mentioned more than once as he's taking advantage of time travel to avoid it. There's a lot of bloodcurdling talk about hacking, slashing, dismembering, and plank-walking, but no one comes to actual harm. Although, some characters seem to have suffered major injuries in the past and have, for example, artificial legs.
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Lots of butt, pee, and poop references, mostly funny.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Time Villains is the first installment in what promises to be an exciting series by first-time novelist Victor Piñeiro. It's about three tweens -- Puerto Rican kids Javi and Brady, and Javi's Haitian American BFF Will, better known as Wikipedia for his extensive knowledge -- who, as the result of an unfortunate error on a class project, unleash Blackbeard the Pirate and his evil henchmen on our all too ripe-for-pillaging world. Figures from history, literature, and mythology emerge to help the kids, and it's all connected to an odd dining room table that magically summons whoever you invite. Drawn from many eras and cultures, from an Afro Caribbean spider deity to Mozart as a 10-year-old, they add a lot of interest and make a formidable team. And there's an afterword with information on where to read more about them. The piratical goings-on involve scary situations, physical mayhem, and a lot of intimidation and gory threats. Blackbeard himself is happy to be time-traveling away from the gruesome death soon to befall him in his own era. But none of the characters come to any real harm in the story, which sets up further adventures to come. There's lots about Puerto Rican culture and cooking, and some dialogue in Spanish. The kids' research in libraries and archives is often an adventure in itself. Much pee, poop, and butt humor, much of it involving terror-driven soiling of pants.
Is It Any Good?
In this epic series start, Puerto Rican siblings and their brainiac Haitian American pal match wits with time-traveling pirates. In short order Javi, Brady, and Wiki are trying to keep Blackbeard and the other Time Villains from pillaging our world. As author Victor Piñeiro's exciting plot unfolds, the kids receive helpful assistance from historical figures, literary characters, and the occasional goddess -- all of whom come with stories, and seem likely to return for further adventures in further installments. Research, libraries, the quest for knowledge, and a lot of creative cooking all serve our heroes well.
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