Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (March 1, 2013)
Source: Copy for Review/Netgalley ARC
Audience: Ages 10 to 13
Fiction * Time Travel * 16th Century Rome
Description from GoodReads:
As if traveling to a new country in search of her missing mother weren't difficult enough, Mira has to do it dressed as a boy. In a different century.
A new postcard from her time-traveling mother points Mira to the 16th century Rome. But before she can rescue her mom, she must follow the clues left around the city to find Giordano Bruno, a famous thinker and mathematician, who discovered something so shocking that important Italian officials don't want it revealed. All the while avoiding the Watchers--time-traveling police who want Mira back in her own time.
It's another whirlwind adventure for Mira, and this time she is determined to bring her mother out of the past.
My thoughts on the book:
Mira's Diary: Home Sweet Rome is a follow-up to Mira's Diary: Lost in Paris. In book 1, Mira has learned that her mother can time travel and has disappeared into the past. It turns out that Mira seems to also have the same gift. In this adventure, Mira's mother has sent her a message that will bring her into 16th Century Rome and an encounter with some very forward thinkers.
Mira's Diary is certainly a book for Middle Grade readers who are fascinated with history and time-travel. The story is heavily seeped with historical figures and events that actually did occur, though the premise of the book and many of the character are fictional. Readers are introduced to a number of important individuals from late 1500's to the early 1600's as Mira is brought back and forth between present day Rome to past Rome. With only a few messages from her mother, Mira has to put the pieces together for herself as to what her purpose is in the past.
As I read Mira's Diary, I realized that this is one of those times that as an adult reader, I might have more difficulty with the book than the average reader within the targeted audience. When I considered the book from the perspective of my 12 year old self, I realized that some of the technical questions I had about time-travel (not so much the issue of could you time-travel - I could accept this as part of the story - but more so the rules of time-travel and how it is explained here) as an adult would not have even come up as a child. Once I could settle that piece in my mind, then the ability to just go with the flow of the story worked.
The other element that I questioned in the story was related to how Mira's mother seems to be stuck in the past but Mira herself came back and forth between the past and the present at least 3 times in the book. Again, children may question, but it wouldn't detract from the story. I won't give anything about the ending away other than to say that Moss has left readers with an anticipation of another book/adventure to come.
Mira's Diary: Home Sweet Rome is a book that I would select with specific students in mind, particularly those children who enjoy history mixed with a sense of adventure. For these students with a fascination of past people and events, Moss provides readers with wonderful details and an amazing author note at the end with even more facts and background information.
Check back in on Monday for an interview with author Marissa Moss and a chance to win a copy of Mira's Diary: Home Sweet Rome.