“The adventures of twins Jemima and Joe, their talking Tonkinese cat Max, and their best friend Charlie continue with another trip back into the past using the magic book they found in their uncle’s attic. Their previous adventures began with a time travel trip to Atlantis in search of their parents, who have mysteriously disappeared. The book, Shadows of the Past, (which belonged to their missing parents) opens to the second chapter, and the poem (a clue) that begins the chapter indicates the adventure concerns the Minotaur and the Athenian prince Theseus. They unhesitatingly step into the past, and find themselves embroiled in an adventure that’s a lot more dangerous than the previous one. Theseus is rather a selfish, absent-minded hero, and without the kids’ and Max’s good ideas, will he even manage to slay the Minotaur at all? With the help of Princess Ariadne (King Minos’ daughter) and of course Max’s vital intervention, they need to achieve their mission and make it back to the present day.
Having read The Shadow of Atlantis, I confess I couldn’t wait to go on another time travel trip with this trio (or should that be quartet?). Author Wendy Leighton-Porter has an amazing knack of placing her heroes right smack into situations that are potentially big and scary (and this one is uber-scary) and then letting them work out the escape routes by using their brains. The kids are refreshingly honest. They don’t let arrogant Theseus steal all the glory. They are also very brave and inventive. They reaffirm the bonds of friendship and loyalty, and isn’t that what kids should be learning in life lessons. It’s not easy to do the right thing when situations are frightening and dangerous, but our young heroes, human and feline, persevere against all odds. The adventures will continue as the kids search for the twins’ parents, but their renewed hope brings a new and positive slant to their escapades. This is a fantastic way of getting young readers interested in ancient myths and legends, and in realising that history is not dry as dust, but is vibrant and exciting. All the characters are believable and wonderfully drawn. Max, of course, quite steals the limelight!