A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Timeless: Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic is the first book written and illustrated by Armand Baltazar, an artist who's worked with major animation studios including Pixar. More than 150 full-color illustrations augment this 600-plus page adventure story. They draw the reader into this world of mixed-up, melded time periods. You'll find giant robots, old steamships, and dinosaurs occupying the same frame. You'll also find weapons new and old in the many battle scenes. Loved ones are kidnapped, and there are two fallen comrades and many other casualties. There's no gore shown in the illustrations or described in the text, but guns are fired at close range. Language stays pretty mild with "bastard" and "bloody hell" being the worst. The young teens are given a small amount of wine for a toast, some baddie teens smoke, and the captain gets drunk in his cabin. Romance doesn't go beyond flirting and one kiss. Characters are diverse. Diego is half-Filipino and his fellow Ranger Paige is black. Despite the Rangers' fighting spirit, there's a call for peace and a discussion about the best path toward peace.
What's the story?
In TIMELESS: DIEGO AND THE RANGERS OF THE VASTLANTIC, Diego has a disturbing dream right before waking up on his 13th birthday. He gets an amazing floating gravity board from his father, Santiago, the great inventor and engineer of New Chicago, but then he watches time stop, people panic, and his whole world end. Time is already fractured in Diego's world after a Time Collision that melds different times together: dinosaurs roam the earth and people from the Victorian, Mid-Time (now), and the 23rd century intermingle in the cities, but not always peaceably. Things start out better than Diego's dream when he does get a gravity board from his father. But the good day doesn't last. When Diego meets Santiago at the harbor after school to impress a new engineer, George Emerson, with his robot-handling skills, a fighting force kidnaps Santiago and the engineer. And worse, Diego finds out the government won't go after the captives themselves. They're sending pirates instead and paying them with a giant robot Diego made. A little on purpose and a lot by accident, Diego, his friend Petey, George Emerson's daughter, Lucy, and Lucy's friend Paige end up stowing away in a compartment of the robot. When the pirate captain finds them aboard his ship, he's furious. Either they learn some seafaring skills in a week or he's throwing them overboard.
Is it any good?
Major kudos to a new writer who knows how to play to his strengths, with 150 pages of full-color art that more than make up for some hiccups in the adventure storytelling. Armand Baltazar, a seasoned Disney and Pixar illustrator, populates his post-Time Collision world with giant robots and dinosaurs wading through a harbor full of tall sailing ships. His main character, Diego, takes a mini-submarine to school and swoops over a jungle island on a gravity board. Baltazar's art pulls this curious sci-fi world together beautifully, but not seamlessly. He often relies too heavily on the art to move the action scenes and makes the beginner mistake of not carefully orienting the reader in a scene, especially when the action gets high. This makes the big battle finale more confusing than exciting. Also, in the middle of the story, as the main characters prepare for their jobs at sea, the primary objective feels lost. Urgency to rescue the prisoners should have been foremost on their minds, rather than whether Diego can fix a robot or stop making a fool of himself in front of Lucy.
It takes time, patience, and attention to detail to build a world both visually and through the written word. Once this talented artist balances the two skills, this series will soar like one of Diego's cool gravity boards.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the illustrations in Timeless: Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic. How do they add to the world building in the story? How do they convey the action? Would you know what was going on without the illustrations?
What would you do without electricity? What would you miss most? How does this world after the Time Collision work without electricity? What inventions is Diego's father responsible for?
Are you looking forward to another adventure? What do you think will happen to all the Rangers next?
- Author: Armand Baltazar
- Illustrator: Armand Baltazar
- Genre: Adventure
- Topics: Cars and Trucks, Dinosaurs, Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Friendship, History, Misfits and Underdogs, Ocean Creatures, Pirates, Robots, Science and Nature
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
- Publication date: October 10, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 624
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
For kids who love adventure and science fiction
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.