2015 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: If you could spend a day anywhere and anytime in the past, where and when would you go? What would you do on your excursion?
Eric Pierpoint (The Secret Mission of William Tuck):
This is a tough question! Would I like to land on the moon? Be present at the signing of the Declaration of Independence? Could I have the knowledge to change history? I could perhaps prevent the assassinations of Abraham Lincoln, John Kennedy or Martin Luther King. Well, that’s a heroic super power daydream. I think I would saddle up a horse and take my dog Joey on a journey through the Wild West. Like my pioneer ancestors in the 1800s, I love the grand scale of the western landscape. We’d ride along deep gorges, flowing rivers and great mountains. I would want to experience our beautiful country in its most pure and natural state before all the freeways, malls, and billboards popped up. I’d love to see the herds of buffalo and soaring eagles. Perhaps I would meet folks along the way and we could swap stories, learn about each other, and appreciate our similarities and differences. It sounds pretty ideal. Then again I’d have to keep an eye out for danger, for you never know what’s lurking out there, man or beast!
You didn’t limit me to one place, so I’ll take a grand tour! First stop, a trip on the Erie Canal, ca. 1840. I’ve always admired this triumph of early-American can-do enterprise, and was enchanted by Peter Spier’s picture book of the song. I’ll be sure and duck when I hear “Low bridge! Everybody down!”
Next I would dash over to the west coast in January 1848 and arrange to be nearby when James Marshall spies some shiny flakes in the American River. “Looks like gold to me,” I’d remark. I have a soft spot for California, given that it’s the setting of my new novel. How cool to attend the birth of the golden state: San Francisco, Southern Pacific, Jack London, John Steinbeck, and eventually, Hollywood.
For a dramatic finish I would return to my home state, to a flat field south of Beaumont, Texas on Jan. 10, 1901. It’s no beauty spot; the only thing to catch the eye is an oil derrick and a few prospectors operating a steam drill, hoping the next hundred feet will pay off before their money runs out. I feel a rumble underfoot. Could be anything; maybe cattle stampeding. But it gets louder. And louder and louder, as the quivering earth gives way to roaring ground, and—“She’s gonna blow!” Lethal steel rods shoot from the derrick like bullets—“Watch out!” And then a fountain of tarry, greasy, beautiful black gold. If Sutter’s Mill is the birthplace of California, Spindletop is where Texas became Texas.
If could take a trip in a time machine I would program in the date May 8, 1945 and step out into the singing and shouting crowds gathered at Trafalgar Square to celebrate the end of World War II. I’d squeeze past soldiers cheerfully sweating in wool uniforms and past the shop girls and women factory workers who filled the streets. I’d stare at all the red, white, and blue bunting that was hung everywhere to celebrate – even on the carcasses of bombed out buildings. I’d listen as Winston Churchill’s voice rang out over the loud speakers announcing the end of fighting and cheer with the crowds when the King and Queen appeared on the balcony of Buckingham palace. Then I would join in the conga line of soldiers and girls who danced down the streets at Piccadilly.
But most of all I would keep my eyes for the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret who put on their khaki service uniforms and went out into the streets with the rest of London. The King and Queen had agreed that their royal daughters should be allowed to celebrate with the rest of the world and the princesses enjoyed a night out with the celebrating crowds. I would love to see them walking through the streets singing Roll Out the Barrel.
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