Jabberwocky Time Warp Tour
Great writers bring history to life for young readers. Whether it’s a daring story of heroism during the American Revolution, a tale of the timeless and transcendent power of art set in WWI era Hollywood, or the general ability to present events in history though different lenses and perspectives, educators and parents rely on these writers to connect kids to the past. Historical middle-grade authors Eric Pierpoint, J.B. Cheaney, and Stephanie Bearce are helping us turn back the clock by answering the questions: What do you think the characters or subjects of your book would have to say about the present day? Are there any modern technology or advancements that they would be particularly excited about?
What do you think the characters or subjects of your book would have to say about the present day? Are there any modern technology or advancements that they would be particularly excited about?
Because my characters lived during the 18th and 19th centuries they would all be amazed at how technology has advanced. What took weeks or months to travel hundreds of miles would only take them hours today. News delivered in weeks or days by courier on horseback was first replaced by the speedy telegraph. Now we have television and cell phones. The idea of actually flying across the country might never have occurred to them. Both Caleb (THE LAST RIDE OF CALEB O’TOOLE) and William (THE SECRET MISSION OF WILLIAM TUCK) may well have ended up as farmers or ranchers and the means to work the fields changed from horse drawn plows to tractors and combines. Caleb’s sister Julie would have become a doctor and there have been huge advances in medicine since 1877. She would be amazed at how one could now transplant a heart, X ray a body, cure many of the dreaded diseases of the 1800s. I believe Rebecca, William’s friend, would have left the plantation life of 1781 and today would most likely run her own company. So, advances for women have been great. Of course, America’s great spy James Armistead was a former slave who became free after the Revolutionary War. All would celebrate the end to slavery and the coming equal rights. Though we do not live in a perfect world, I would think every character would wonder at the opportunities we have today, marvel that we travel around in cars and planes, and that we actually landed on the moon. They might also recoil at increasing blight civilization brings. I think my characters are pretty smart and impressed as they would be with our social and technological progress, they would also be conscious of the huge responsibility we have to clean up our act and ensure the survival of our greatly populated planet.
When Ranger is describing D. W. Griffith’s epic masterpiece Intolerance, he explains its effect by telling Isobel, “You can almost feel your head getting bigger, just trying to take it all in!” If Ranger were dropped into 2015 and taken to see The Avengers: Age of Ultron (for instance) he might feel his head exploding. It would be Disneyland on steroids for him—even though I like to think that Ranger has enough artistic sense to reach a saturation point with dazzling special effects. For him it’s never just about the spectacle. Otherwise I think he would get along just fine with the present day, abandoning himself to its technological playground.
Isobel would have a hard time adjusting, being basically conservative and “proper.” The Avengers would give her a headache and today’s casual attitudes toward patriotism and relationships and church and morality (and on and on) would give her a stomach ache. If my four principals were to travel in a time machine to 2015 and given a choice whether to stay or return home, Ranger would definitely stay and Isobel would definitely return. Sylvie, being the adventurous type, would struggle with family ties before deciding to stay, and Sam would struggle with his attraction to the technology before turning his heart back home.
I think almost everyone would be amazed and pleased at the advances in science and technology. Abraham Lincoln would be thrilled to know that typhoid fever that killed his 11 year-old son, Willie, has been eradicated in the United States because of clean drinking water and modern sewer systems.
George Washington had to use handwritten notes, invisible ink, and riders on horseback to convey messages to his troops. Now soldiers have computers, drones, cell phones, and radio communications. Washington would have given his false teeth for tools like that.
Pirates of the 1700’s would have traded all their treasure for the modern conveniences of GPS, weather stations, radio communications, and accurate map systems. Refrigerators would have been better than gold because pirates could have kept oranges and fruits to help them fight off the disease of scurvy. Modern deep sea diving equipment would have given them the advantage in recovering ship wrecked treasure and modern prosthetics would have been much better than hooks and peg legs.
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