A few months ago, Mike Friedman announced a second Kickstarter project to raise funds to publish a new story that he explained was to be aimed at younger readers. Well, as a professional educator and science fiction fan, I immediately got on board with this. Mike explained that he is concerned that students (just to be clear, the author is also a junior high history teacher) aren’t reading enough and struggle learning history. Well, Mike thought that he would write a history lesson into an entertaining story and hopefully make learning history more palatable. After reading Lost Days, I must say that I think he has succeeded spectacularly.
The story centers around young Anthony Borelli, a pretty good student who, with the encouragement of one of his teachers, has become very interested in history, particularly that of the Italian Renaissance. He is not a large kid and is often bullied, but manages to weather the storm well. One day, after a series of small calamities, Anthony is exhausted and falls asleep on his bed. When he awakens, he finds himself in very unfamiliar surroundings. As a matter of fact, he has somehow time traveled from 2015 back to the year 1582!
For those of you that are not aware, one of the major events of that year was when the Julian calendar was adjusted by ten days to bring about the calendar that we use today, the Gregorian calendar. For many years, the calendar had the date for the Easter holiday drifting around when in the days of the early church, it was originally tied to the first day of spring. Owing to the research of Italian scientist, Aloysius Lilius (as well as others later on), Pope Gregory XIII adopted what became our modern calendar with twelve months in the year instead of ten, and made sure that Easter fell at the same time every year, in accordance with the early church. So, since there were ten days taken out of the calendar, Mike saw the opportunity for an imaginary paradox in which he would tells the story of what might have happened during those ten lost days.
Anthony has been thrust into carrying out a most daunting mission, and that is to be sure that the change in the calendar does indeed take place, because if it doesn’t, it may very well have grave consequences that reach far into the future, or perhaps the destruction of the entire human race.
Along with the story that Mike has woven, he has included a very vivid picture of what life must have been like for the common people of a small town in Italy. While conditions there might not have been ideal by our modern standards, things were much as they are today with people having to maintain their standard of living through perseverance and hard work. When disaster strikes, people pull together to help one another, kids run and play games, and community leaders work to keep everyone pulling in the same direction. The characters that Mike has created are people we might recognize as our neighbors and friends. Make no mistake though, while times are rough in the late 16th century, they only get tougher as one turns the pages. It is pretty plain that the author has done his own homework on this one as he uses words to complete what it must have been like to live in the past.
While this book is categorized as being for younger readers, say from sixth graders on up, I found that I was enjoying it and appreciating it for what it is; a great story. I think people of any age could pick this up and be entertained, or even absorbed, as I myself was. I was hooked from the start and seriously regretted having to set this book aside to take care of my own responsibilities.
If you are a teacher with students who are reluctant to read a book, or likewise a parent who struggles with children that believe reading to be boring, then I would suggest that this might be a good book to introduce those young people to, because this is one story that has characters that kids can relate to in situations that are not only interesting, but a little harrowing at times, and who knows, perhaps they will learn something along the way.
Well, there it is…