Reviewed by Carrie Spellman for TeensReadToo.com
TINA TALINKA AND THE KNIGHTS OF SACRIFICE
Tina Talinka lives in Florida, NMK (north of the Magic Kingdom), with her archaeologist mom. Tina and her friend, Dennis, like to wander through old riverbeds after it rains, just to see what kind of cool treasures the water can stir up (arrowheads, sharks teeth, etc.). Which is exactly what they are doing when Tina feels the invisible hand for the first time. It pulls her into an especially deep pool, and guides her to a strange object. Tina and Dennis are pretty sure this might be something much bigger than an arrowhead, so they take the object to Tina's mom.
It turns out that they've found a scepter, with engravings in Italian!
Tina's mom can't figure out exactly what it says, so she contacts a friend in Florence. Before anyone has time to think, Tina, Dennis, and Tina's mom are off to Italy!
Florence is a place where modern life and ancient architecture make it seem like the past and the present seem to overlap. Unless you're Tina and Dennis. Then past and present literally fall together. When Tina keeps a strange looking boy, who no one else seems to notice, from being run over by a cart, she sets in motion an almost unbelievable turn of events. Events that will affect the past as well as the present. Tina knows that nothing will ever be the same, but as long as her invisible hand friend is there to guide them everything should be fine, right?
In addition to a fantastic adventure, this is a reading tour through Florence (past and present), and a lesson in Italian art. Tina is a strong female character who struggles to make sense of the places she finds herself, and the effects she can have on the world and history. Her mom is great as an unsuspecting pawn of sorts. All in all this is a really fun story with many, many layers. And it made me really want to go to Italy.
TINA TALINKA AND THE ECHO OF ALLOHOM
Tina is back, but this time she and her mom are living in England, thanks to a fellowship from the London Museum of Archeology. Wasting time before her math help session, Tina wanders around the school library and encounters her invisible friend. When the words in the book she's reading start rearranging themselves into cryptic messages, a book that mysteriously fell off of the shelf, Tina knows something is about to happen.
After an eventful few moments on a train platform, Tina gets home to find out that she'll be making a surprise trip to France! An archaeological dig there has uncovered something that is incredibly similar to the scepter Tina found previously. They want Tina's mom to look at it, and Tina, along with surprise visitor Dennis, will be going along. Tina has a feeling that these aren't all just amazing coincidences. There must be more going on here than meets the eye.
Once they get to the dig site it's obvious that Tina was right. Once again the past and present start to fold together. This time, though, they aren't the only ones who seem to be jumping around in time. Tina would feel much better if her invisible friend would come back. Where did he go? And why is the man who tried to get rid of them last time helping them now?
Tina's adventures get more complicated in this story, and the writing just gets better. Tina is much more engrossing and Dennis is a greater participant. History lessons, logic problems, and more time travel abound. The more Tina learns about herself and her abilities, the stronger both become. It's a good thing to be a part of. This series grows on me more and more as I read each story. I really hope that Mr. Moulton keeps us connected with Tina and Dennis.