TimeRiders: The Doomsday Code by Alex Scarrow
middle school & up
A computer genius has managed to translate whole sentences of a manuscript no one else has ever managed to decrypt. That brings a pair of time travelers to visit him. Maddy and Becks work for an agency that helps maintain a correct timeline. Thanks to the clues uncovered in the manuscript they must send operatives back to England in 1194 to investigate several legends including Robin Hood.
Here is a gold-plated recommendation from me: this is the third book in the series. I haven't read the first two but I read this one anyway. I never do that. So the fact that I just did means this was a very engaging story. I liked all the characters and the little glimpses into their different times very interesting. There is enough exposition in the story to make it easy to follow but also it is intriguing enough to make me want to go back and read the other two.
I think history teachers would like this book. It gives a different perspective on the Robin Hood/Prince John thing. If you're like me you got most of your knowledge on that subject from animated foxes and old movies. (I mean old. Errol Flynn and Olivia DeHaviland not Kevin Costner.) Plus, you can get into discussions about what would be different if historical events had gone another way. What if America had been settled by the French? Or not settled at all? What if King Richard hadn't gone on his Crusades? What if Prince John wasn't the kind of King who sucked his thumb? (Sorry, got a little Disney there.) But you get the point, those type of questions could be endlessly fascinating. Science teachers should like this too. One of the characters is from a future only about 50 years away. I hear discussions of coastlines and over population. There's mention of future "Oil Wars." That's something that sounds all too plausible.
Verdict: highly recommended