Rome Reframed

Jolly Fish Pr. (Wish & Wander: Bk. 2). Feb. 2021. 256p. pap. $11.99. ISBN 9781631635168.
Gr 5 Up–At first glance, Lucas seems like an entitled spoiled jerk complaining about his six months traveling in Europe with his professor parents. He only cares about going back to Austin, TX, to play soccer with his friend Kei. Soon after, a palm reader hands Lucas a magical coin that allows him to time travel to ancient Rome while sightseeing. Time traveling helps Lucas witness firsthand the blood, sweat, and tears of the eternal city while single-handedly improving relations with his friend, siblings, parents, teachers, and potential girlfriend à la A Christmas Carol style. From his point of view, Lucas’s parents appear to be self-centered and distracted intellectuals. Bearce challenges readers to expand their perceptions of the characters, Rome, and travel itself. Bearce’s work could be useful in social work discussions about vulnerability, responsibility, communicating with parents, and being open to experiences which bring you closer to discovering your true passions and vocation. World history teachers would find this to be a novel companion. The use of modern dating (CE/BCE) would’ve been more inclusive of non–Judeo Christian references to time.
VERDICT A charming fictional travel companion and inspiring message for burgeoning artists that sharing art takes courage.

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