This week's Hidden Gem is Flashback Four: The Lincoln Project by Dan Gutman. I remembered Mr. Gutman from his Baseball Card Adventures - Babe & Me, Honus & Me, etc. His new series is also historical fiction. This new series has not been given a Lexile yet. However, I would say that it would be a great fit for 4th and 5th grades.
Summary of The Lincoln ProjectThe story opens with four Boston students receiving mysterious invitations to a meeting. Upon arrival, they learn that they have been selected by a tech billionaire, MIss Z, to form a time travelling team. Although the kids think it's a joke, a test proves that time travel is possible. But why them? And what does she want? Miss Z believes that children would be less likely to get into trouble if caught. She wants the children to take photographs of famous moments in history, starting with Lincoln giving the Gettysburg Address. (Although photography existed at that time, no pictures were taken of Lincoln actually giving the speech.) The Flashback Four are given a crash course on the time period - how to talk, dress, etc. - and then are sent back in time.
Integrate the Civil War and ReadingI believe this series will really pique students' interest. The four students are varied in personality and background, and there are hints that one member has some personal problems that will be developed in future books. The history is well incorporated into the story, and the premise itself is plausible. The only thing I didn't care for was the ending. The book ended on a real cliffhanger, but for me it left too much hanging. Since I don't have the next book, I find that pretty frustrating. However, the ending wouldn't keep me from reading it to the class.
This series would be a great way to incorporate history standards into your reading class. This first book would also be a great to use when focusing on character development. Students could be responsible for tracking information about each team member and Miss Z.