Making It Home by Suzanne Roche, paperback novel, 179 pages, published in 2015.
Peri was an only child until her Dad remarried, then she became a big sister to Henry and Max. All three of them spend their afternoons in the antique store owned by Peri’s father and grandfather. Whilst exploring the stockroom, Max finds a set of old keys and takes them to show Henry, placing them on top of an antiques encyclopeadia. Peri tries to stop him, but it’s too late, and they are all transported back to Ellis Island when the first immigrants were processed through there prior to entering New York city. Now Peri, Henry and Max have to find a way home, and help some people along the way.
Making it Home is a time slip novel for upper primary and lower high school students. It is a bit different to the average time slip story though, in that it contains more detailed historical information, along with archival resources, such as photographs from the relevant time periods. It is fiction based in historical fact. There are also activities and recipes at the back of the book to allow the reader to get hands-on while learning history. It was a very interesting and educational read.
The story jumps through several times, all around the end of the nineteenth century in New York City, mostly looking at the immigrant population and their situations. It was very detailed, and I felt like I learnt a lot about this era whilst reading the book. The time jumps were often unexpected, and sometimes a little hard to follow, but the content was interesting enough to overlook this.
For a book that’s gone to print, there were quite a few text errors, such as repeated words or words out of order. These should have been picked up and corrected during the editing process. They didn’t affect the storyline, but I found them a little distracting. Something that did really bother me about the story, was how did Peri, Henry and Max get through the Ellis Island check point? They would not have been on a ship manifest anywhere, so they would have been detained by the authorities, yet they seem to walk through to New York without being checked. A minor issue, I guess, but still, it niggled me. Also, when the children meet up with Geraldo for the second time, they have not aged, yet Geraldo doesn’t seem to think this is odd, despite a number of years having passed by then.
I liked the children, they were written quite realistically for their ages and situation. I think Henry is my favourite. He’s so indignant at being demoted to middle child, irritated by Peri’s older sister bossiness, incredulous about being in the past, and just really wants to go home more than anything. Being the youngest, Max was rather carefree, and just happy to be having an adventure. Peri was a big reader, and knew quite a lot about New York City, the immigrants, and tenements, which helped them. She felt responsible for their situation, and wanted to find the solution to returning home, but became very involved in helping the people they met in the past.
Making It Home is the first book in the new Time to Time series, following Peri, Henry and Max on their adventures through time, and making history fun. I wonder where in time they will find themselves next?