“A historical home run!” Dav Pilkey, bestselling author of Captain Underpants
Two kids must un-twist history after Amelia Earhart changes course in this hilarious Time Twisters chapter book by award-winning author Steve Sheinkin.
WARNING: DO NOT BELIEVE THE STORY YOU’RE ABOUT TO READ.
Well, you can believe some of it. There is some real history. But also hijinks. Time travel. And famous figures setting off on adventures that definitely never happenedtill now. Time is getting twisted, and it’s up to two kids to straighten things out.
Siblings Abby and Doc have been racing through time to fix history after Abraham Lincoln, Abigail Adams, and Neil Armstrong started popping up in the wrong places, at the wrong times. When Amelia Earhart accidentally lands her plane in Ancient Greece, Abby and Doc partner with Kyniska, the first woman to win the Olympics, to get Amelia back on track to finish her first solo flight across the Atlantic.
Steve Sheinkin combines history, hilarity, and surprising twists in Amelia Earhart and the Flying Chariot. The Time Twisters series is a surefire hit with history buffs and reluctant readers alike!
About the Author
Steve Sheinkin is the acclaimed author of fast-paced, cinematic nonfiction histories for young readers, including The Port Chicago 50, The Notorious Benedict Arnold, Bomb, Most Dangerous, and Undefeated. His accolades include a Newbery Honor, three Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards, a Sibert Medal, and three National Book Award finalist honors. Sheinkin lives in Saratoga Springs, New York.
Neil Swaab is a New York City–based illustrator, designer, and author. He has illustrated numerous books including New York Times bestseller Big Fat Liar by James Patterson and Neil's own series, The Secrets to Ruling School. He has also animated for TV and enjoys teaching at Parsons School of Design.
Read an Excerpt
The bell rang. The kids cheered.
"Okay, guys," Ms. Maybee told her fourth-grade class, "see you Monday!"
Everyone got up and started shoving stuff into backpacks. Except for Abby and Doc. They stayed slumped in their chairs.
Between school, soccer, and fixing history, it had been a tiring week.
Ms. Maybee walked up to them. "I know I'm fascinating, but you really do have to leave."
Abby yawned. Doc nodded sleepily.
They stumbled toward the library, eyes half closed. They shuffled past the checkout desk.
"Abby and Doc! The ones who broke history!"
That woke them up a bit. They turned to see who'd spoken.
It was a girl. About nine, their age. She stood in front of the librarian's bulletin board, which was filled with photos of students in their Halloween costumes.
"I'm homeschooled, but they let me use the library. I've heard about the strange things that have been happening. Abe Lincoln becoming a pro wrestler! Abigail Adams on a pirate ship! It was you, right? The ones who broke history?"
"It was really more Lincoln's fault," Doc said.
"That's what I heard," Sally said.
"We've been trying to fix things," Abby said.
"Must be fun!" Sally shouted.
Abby and Doc looked at each other. They weren't sure if they were supposed to talk about this. And anyway, they didn't have the energy to explain.
"Well, it was nice to meet you," Abby said.
"Yeah," Doc said. "See you."
They trudged between tall shelves to the back of the library.
Sally followed. "Where are you going now? The Wild West? King Arthur's Court?" "We're going to wait for our mom," Doc said.
They stopped in front of the door to the storage room.
"She's a teacher here," Abby said. "We sit back in this storage room after school, do homework and stuff, till she's ready to leave."
Sally smiled. "Well, guess I'll get back to my reading. See you later?"
"Yeah," Doc said, yawning. "Sure."
Abby and Doc went into the storage room and shut the door. The small space had bookshelves, a table, two chairs, and a tall cardboard box that somehow took Abby and Doc to times and places they read about in history class.
People from history could use the box, too. That's how all the trouble began. Abraham Lincoln had jumped out of the box and announced he was quitting history — and became a pro wrestler instead. Doc and Abby convinced him to go back to being president of the United States. But other people from history saw what Lincoln had done. If Lincoln could travel through time, so could they. Abigail Adams, the first lady, joined a pirate ship. The cowboy Nat Love flew to the moon.
Getting everyone back where they belonged was exhausting. All Doc and Abby wanted to do now was rest.
They threw down their backpacks and fell into the chairs. Abby took off her glasses, folded her arms on the table, and rested her head in her arms. Doc put his feet up on the table and tilted his head back. His baseball hat dropped to the floor.
They both closed their eyes, hoping for a nice long nap.
Which they would not get.CHAPTER 2
"Wake up, sleepyheads! Time to go home!"
Doc's chair tipped back, and he crashed to the floor.
"Whaaaa?" Abby groaned, wiping drool from her mouth. "Oh, hi, Mom."
Their mom stood in the doorway. She laughed.
"It's Friday," said Doc, lying flat on his back. "No homework."
Abby reached for her glasses.
They weren't there.
Instead, right where she'd left the glasses was a pair of goggles.
"What?" Abby asked. "Where are my glasses?"
"And my hat," Doc said, looking around. "Where's my hat?"
"Abigail," their mom said, "please tell me you did not lose your glasses."
"Where are they?"
"I don't know."
"That's the definition of lost, last I checked." Their mom sighed. "Do you still have that old pair in your bag?"
"I hate those," Abby moaned.
"Just till you find your good ones. Get your stuff together, both of you, and meet me in my classroom."
Abby reached into a pocket in her backpack and pulled out the glasses she'd gotten in kindergarten. They had goofy tiger-stripe frames. She put them on.
Abby picked up the goggles. They looked like the kind pilots wore in the early days of airplanes. They sort of reminded her of Amelia Earhart's flight goggles.
Abby was a big fan of Amelia Earhart, the famous pilot. She'd been Amelia for Halloween, and her costume had come with goggles just like these. But those were cheap plastic. These were much heavier, with glass lenses and metal frames.
She put the goggles on over her glasses. The canvas strap was loose, as if it had been adjusted to fit a bigger head.
"Look at this," Doc said, touching the back of the strap. On the strap, in black ink, were two letters:
"That's how Amelia Earhart signed letters: AE," Abby said.
"Could they be real?" Doc wondered. "Really Amelia's?"
"Things have been getting mixed up lately," Abby pointed out.
"Yeah, but mostly people from history. Not, you know, eyewear."
They both looked at the tall cardboard box.
Abby walked to the box. She tilted it toward her and looked in.
"No glasses in here," Abby said.
"How about my hat?"
"Just a few history books at the bottom. Same as always."
Abby stepped onto a chair, then up onto the table. From there, she stepped up to the top of a wobbly stack of boxes. She tightened the strap on the pilot goggles.
"Mind if I ask what you're doing?" Doc said.
"I need to give these back," Abby said, tapping the goggles. "And see if she has my glasses."
"Why would Amelia Earhart have your glasses?" Doc asked.
"I don't know, but Mom's gonna be mad if I can't find them," Abby said. "Plus, I always wanted to meet her."
"I don't think that's what the cardboard box is for."
"Okay, box," Abby said. "I'm not sure exactly where Amelia Earhart is right now, but hopefully you know, so um ... yeah, thanks."
She bent her knees and jumped toward the tall box. She flew in feet first — and disappeared without a sound.CHAPTER 3
Abby landed on a concrete floor. She was in a massive building with high ceilings. The air smelled of motor oil and rubber. Small planes were parked all around.
Doc tumbled down a few seconds later. Abby helped him up, and they looked around.
"Airplane hangar," she said.
"And the planes are old," he said.
Abby noticed a calendar hanging on the wall. She ran over to take a look.
It was a calendar from the year 1932. Opened to the page for May.
"We're in 1932," Abby said.
"You gotta love that cardboard box," Doc said.
"May 1932," Abby said. "That's when Amelia Earhart flew solo across the Atlantic. No woman had ever done it before. But I don't see her."
"Let's look outside," Doc suggested.
It was a chilly spring day. There were other hangars and a runway, and trees and fields all around. Above the trees, in the distance, they could see the top of New York City's Empire State Building. Finished just the year before, it was the tallest building in the world.
"We're in New Jersey," Abby said. "Teterboro Airport. I read about this. This is where Amelia got ready for her Atlantic flight. Look!"
Abby pointed to Amelia Earhart's famous Lockheed Vega. She'd seen the airplane a hundred times in photos — black-and-white photos. In person, it was fire-engine red.
Amelia Earhart stood near the small plane, talking to newspaper reporters. She wore long pants and a leather jacket. Her short, wavy hair flapped in the breeze.
Abby and Doc walked up and stood behind the reporters.
"Women, like men, should try to do the impossible," Amelia was telling them. "And when they fail? Their failure should be a challenge to others."
"But aren't you worried?" one of the reporters asked. "Failure in this case ... that is, over the Atlantic Ocean. Not much room for error, is there?"
"The thing is to decide if a goal is worth the risks involved," Amelia said. "If it is, stop worrying and try." She looked up at the sky. "All I need now is a good weather report."
"Any last message to our readers?" asked another reporter. "I'm sorry, not last message. Just, last for now ..."
Amelia laughed. "I don't claim to be the bravest pilot, and I'm certainly not the best. But my motto is:
"Thanks. Can we get a few pictures?"
When the photographers were finished, Abby stepped forward. She was still wearing the goggles.
She said, "Ms. Earhart, I— owwww!"
A tall man in a suit had just grabbed her by the back of the neck.
"Caught ya!" the man barked.
Doc shouted, "Hey, let go of her!"
The man grabbed Doc, too, and dragged them both toward the nearest hangar.
"Here's a story for you," he called to the newspapermen. "Make a swell headline: AMELIA EARHART GOGGLE THIEVES NABBED ATAIRPORT!"CHAPTER 4
The man was George Putnam, Amelia Earhart's manager — and husband. He shoved Abby and Doc into an office in the hangar and glared down at them.
"It wasn't me!" Abby insisted.
"It wasn't," Doc said. "We just got here."
"It was both of you," Putnam charged. He snatched the goggles from Abby's face.
"I didn't steal them!"
"Sure, sure," Putnam said. "They just happened to appear on your head."
"Funny," Doc said, "but that's kind of close."
"Can we at least talk to her?" Abby asked.
"To Amelia? You most certainly cannot." Putnam picked up a phone. "Ever since she became famous, people have been stealing things from her — goggles, scarves, maps, you name it. Do you know, people steal things and then bring them to her to autograph? The nerve! We're sick of it!" And he growled into the phone, "Yes, operator. Get me the police."
"But we didn't take anything!" Abby repeated. "Actually, I think she might have something of mine."
"Tell it to the judge," Putnam said.
A voice from the other side of the door called out. "Hold on there, GP!"
"Yes, I'm still waiting," Putnam said into the phone. "Hello? Hello? Officer?"
Amelia Earhart walked into the office.
"What did you say?" she asked Abby. "You think I have something of yours?"
Abby looked up at Amelia. She felt a blush spread over her cheeks. She opened her mouth, but no sound came out.
Doc came to the rescue. "This is my sister, Abby. I'm Doc. You're her hero."
"One of them, anyway," Doc added.
"Hang up the phone, GP," Amelia said. "Go see if Brent has anything new on the weather."
"Fine," Putnam grunted, tossing the goggles onto the desk. "But don't waste too much time with these kids."
He stomped out. Amelia picked up the goggles.
"These are mine all right," she said. "Where on earth did you find them?"
Abby explained. Amelia didn't seem surprised.
"I've heard things have gotten a little twisted up lately," she said. "I suppose you're hoping I have your glasses?"
"And my hat," Doc said. "Red baseball hat?"
"Follow me," Amelia said.
She led them out of the office and across the hangar to a wall where hats, coats, and small bags hung from hooks.
"I left my goggles in this bag yesterday," Amelia said. "And this morning, they weren't there." She reached into her bag. "But this was."
She pulled out — not Abby's glasses.
Not Doc's hat.
Some sort of stick? No, a small wreath. A leafy branch tied in a circle, about the size of a crown.
Everyone was pretty confused.
"Can I see?" Doc asked.
Amelia handed Doc the wreath.
"Kind of looks like an olive branch," he said. "They used to give crowns like this to winners at the Olympics. Way back in ancient Greece."
Doc put the wreath on his head. "I was an ancient Olympic champion for Halloween," he explained to Amelia Earhart.
Abby rolled her eyes. "I remember you went on and on about how the athletes did the events totally naked."
"Kids loved it!" Doc said. "Grown-ups just want to tell you the boring parts of history."
George Putnam came running up. "Amelia! There you are!"
"What is it?" Amelia asked. "Is everything all right?"
"Super!" Putnam shouted. "Just heard from the weather bureau. Expecting calm skies over the Atlantic for the next two days."
"Finally!" Amelia shouted.
She reached into her bag and pulled out her leather flying helmet. She put it on and strapped the goggles over the helmet, resting the frames on her forehead. Then she turned to Abby and Doc.
"Thank you again," she said, tapping the goggles. "I'm sorry about your glasses, Abby. I hope they turn up. Well, wish me luck!"
And she raced out to her plane.CHAPTER 5
Abby and Doc were left standing in the hangar.
"No one seems too worried about my hat," Doc said.
Abby barely heard him. She was still a little in shock. "I can't believe I got to meet Amelia Earhart ..."
"Weird, about this thing," Doc said, taking the olive branch crown off his head.
"Huh?" Abby asked. "Oh, yeah. Weird."
"You were Amelia Earhart for Halloween," Doc said. "And I was an Olympic athlete. And we find Amelia Earhart's goggles and this thing that looks like an Olympic crown."
"It's a weird coincidence," Abby said.
"Yeah," Doc said. "Or something."
He felt the leaves of the crown. He sniffed the wood. "It's a real branch. Not like the fake one in my costume. And I had to wear that stupid robe-type thing, which was so unrealistic."
"Well, Dad was right not to let you go trick-or-treating naked."
"I guess," Doc said. "It was a chilly night."
"What does all this have to do with my glasses?" Abby wondered.
"Remember when I was with the cowboys in Texas, before you got there?" Doc asked. "Abe Lincoln told me he thinks someone's messing with history. Purposely mixing things up."
"Who?" Abby asked. "Why?"
"He doesn't know."
"Let's figure it out," Abby said. "We need to stick with Amelia Earhart. Come on!"
Abby ran out of the hangar, with Doc close behind.
Amelia was out at her plane, making her pre-flight checks.
"Sorry, children, I can't talk now."
"Can we come?" Abby blurted out.
Amelia ran her hand along the back of the wing. She smiled, taking Abby's question as a joke. "This is a solo flight. That's the whole point."
"But you're not crossing the Atlantic today," Abby said. "Your plan is to fly to Canada, so you can leave tomorrow from Newfoundland, which is closer to Europe."
Amelia was impressed. "You know a lot about this."
"Please," Abby said. "We'll just ride with you to Canada."
"I don't know ..."
"What was it you told that reporter?" Abby said. "You should never turn down an adventure?"
That made Amelia smile. "You understand, I can't bring you back here."
"That's okay," Abby said. "We'll find our own way home."
* * *
Ten minutes later they were in the air.
Doc and Abby sat on a tiny bench behind the cockpit. The cabin was big enough for six seats, but the seats had been removed and replaced with extra fuel tanks for Amelia's historic flight. There are no gas stations in the Atlantic Ocean.
A little window gave them an amazing view of New York City and the Hudson River. The buildings and buses and cars looked like pieces of a board game.
"I never get tired of this!" Amelia said, shouting over the roar of the propeller. "When I was your age, I was drawn to thrilling things: bicycles, horses, fast sleds. Everyone told me to be more ladylike. But why go through a gate, if you can jump over it?"
The plane climbed through a layer of clouds, bouncing like a roller coaster. Doc and Abby gripped the side of the bench.
Amelia turned to them and smiled. "Don't worry, I've been flying for ten years!"
"Is it true that no one wanted to teach you at first?" Abby asked.
"There's this silly idea that women can't handle the pressure of flying! But there were a few women pilots out there, and I found one who would teach me. I was working in an office back then, filing, sorting mail; it was awful! But I saved every penny for my lessons. I had no thought of becoming famous. I just lived for this moment — the freedom of the air!"
Doc looked out the window. The clouds were gone now, and he could see straight down, giving him a spectacular view of ...
"Huh?" he said, elbowing Abby and pointing.
Abby said, "Ms. Earhart?"
"Call me Amelia, please."
"Amelia," Abby said. "I think we made a wrong turn."CHAPTER 6
Amelia Earhart's red plane soared above a blue-green sea. The water glittered in bright sunlight and was dotted with small rocky islands. Far in the distance, small waves washed against a white beach.
Amelia leaned to her left and looked down.
"New Jersey?" Doc asked.
"Not a part I've ever seen," said Amelia. "Looks more like ... the Mediterranean?"
"Uh-oh," Abby said.
"Yeah," agreed Doc.
Amelia turned to face them. "Do you two know what's going on?"
"No," Abby said. "But this is like what happened to the astronauts. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin — they were going to the moon, but they suddenly landed in Texas."
"In the 1800s," Doc added. "There were angry cowboys."
"How very inconvenient," Amelia said.
"We wound up fixing everything," Abby said. "Sort of."
Amelia Earhart shook her head. "I really must get to Newfoundland tonight. I'm not the only woman who wants to be first across the Atlantic, you know. Another delay, and someone's sure to beat me."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Amelia Earhart and the Flying Chariot"
Copyright © 2019 Steve Sheinkin.
Excerpted by permission of Roaring Brook Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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