Book Title: The Last Saxon King: A Jump in Time Novel Book 1 by Andrew Varga
Category: Middle-Grade Fiction (Ages 8-12), 361 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction, Time Travel, Middle-Grade/YA
Publisher: Imbrifex Books
Release date: March 7, 2023
Content Rating: PG + M
One Jump to Save All Time
Life is progressing normally for sixteen-year-old Dan Renfrew when he accidentally transports himself to England in the year 1066. He soon realizes that he’s trapped there, and that’s not his only astonishing discovery. Dan learns that he’s descended from a long line of time jumpers—secret heroes who travel to the past and resolve glitches in the time stream that threaten to alter subsequent history. The only way Dan can return home is to set history back on its proper course in the Anglo-Saxon age. This is no easy task. A Viking horde is ravaging England in the north while a Norman army threatens to invade from the south. In between and desperately struggling to hold on to his throne is Harold Godwinson, the newly-crowned English king. Dan is fighting to ensure that events play out correctly when he finds himself plunged into an even more lethal conflict. To save history, Dan must battle a band of malevolent time jumpers whose lust for wealth and power threatens the entire future of the world.
Ever since his mother told him he was descended from Vikings, ANDREW VARGA has had a fascination for history. He’s read hundreds of history books, watched countless historical movies, and earned a BA from the University of Toronto with a specialist in history and a major in English. Andrew has traveled extensively across Europe, where he toured famous castles, museums, and historical sites. During his travels he accumulated a collection of swords, shields, and other medieval weapons that now adorn his personal library. Andrew currently lives in the greater Toronto area with his wife Pam, their three children, and their mini-zoo of two dogs, two cats, a turtle, and some fish. It was his children’s love of reading, particularly historical and fantasy stories, that inspired Andrew to write this series. In his spare time, when he isn’t writing or editing, Andrew reads history books, jams on guitar, or plays beach volleyball.
Andrew currently lives in the greater Toronto area with his wife Pam, their three children, and their mini-zoo of two dogs, two cats, a turtle, and some fish. It was his children’s love of reading, particularly historical and fantasy stories, that inspired Andrew to write this series. In his spare time, when he isn’t writing or editing, Andrew reads history books, jams on guitar, or plays beach volleyball.
connect to the author: instagram ~ goodreads
our Reasons Why Historical Fiction is an Important Genre for Middle Schoolers
by Andrew Varga
Encouraging a child to read is one of the best things you can do for them. It improves vocabulary, increases knowledge, and exercises the brain. But there are so many genres out there—mystery, action, romance, science fiction, fantasy, just to name a few—how do you choose the right book for a child? If you are looking for something that will be enjoyable to read, while at the same time providing some sort of educational value, why not try historical fiction?
For those who are not familiar with the genre, it consists of books that tell fictional stories in a real historical setting. A thrilling murder mystery set in bombed-out London during World War II, a passionate romance during the reign of Augustus in the Roman Empire, and an action-packed adventure during the First Crusade would all be part of this genre. A good historical fiction novel is a finely crafted blend of interesting historical detail, with exciting plots and characters to make the journey into the past memorable. It will both engage a child’s interest and teach them about history. But if that’s not enough to convince you to try a historical fiction book for your child, then consider the following advantages of the genre.
Historical Fiction provides immersive learning about other cultures and times
Some people find history in schools to be dull—just lists of names and dates and events that are challenging to connect with and understand. But an excellent historical fiction novel is like a time machine that transports us to a distant place in our past, and fully immerses us in a new world where history comes alive. We aren’t just told about events—we watch them unfold through the eyes of the characters, who become our tour guides to a different land and time. We are shown what people of the time ate and wore, how they lived their daily lives and what they believed. We can visit the crowded Roman Forum and hear orators dressed in togas shouting from the Rostrum. We can cross the deck of an 18th-century British sailing vessel and hear the wind in its sails and the waves splashing against the hull as it slices through the waters of the Caribbean. With historical fiction, the sounds, the sights, and the smells of the past all come alive.
Historical Fiction teaches the significance of the past
In our modern-day world with computers, cars, planes and spacecraft, it may seem kind of strange to read a book about events that took place in the past and hope to learn something useful. But the world did not arrive at its current place magically. Thousands of years of invention, discovery, struggle, and warfare created scientific breakthroughs, defined the borders, and shaped the world we know today. Through historical fiction, we can learn not only about the people and events that shaped our modern world, but we can also get a first-hand glimpse of the factors that drove these brave people to challenge the norms of their time and fight oppression, win freedom, right wrongs, or make brave discoveries. And, just as important, we can also learn about the great failures of the past, and hopefully, learn from the mistakes of others.
Historical Fiction softens the blow when teaching the harsher parts of history
Unfortunately, not all history is pleasant. The last few thousand years have seen wars, plagues, slavery, genocide, and humans generally not being kind to one another. It is not easy to sit a child down and explain all of these darker parts of our shared history. But historical fiction allows for the harsher parts of our past to be taught in a more palatable manner for younger minds. It allows them to read and feel the struggles of different people, races, and cultures, and come to a better understanding of their own place in the world. And, in cases where a family member has experienced their own struggles, historical fiction can be a gateway for children to understand what previous generations have gone through.
Historical Fiction can teach values
We live in an age where communication and globalization have shrunk our world so that if something happens halfway across the globe, we can hear about in minutes. The days of intrepid explorers sailing off into dark uncharted waters are long past. There are no more brave pioneer families setting out with only a wagon full of goods to carve out a new home for themselves in a harsh and unforgiving wilderness. Historical fiction can take us back to those times, and reveal to us the courage, endurance, determination, and teamwork that made our ancestors persevere against tremendous odds. And, as we relive these experiences, we can think about how we ourselves would have reacted to the situations. This allows us the ability to empathize with viewpoints that are different from our own or discover alternative ways to handle our own problems.
So when thinking about the next book to purchase for a child, why not try historical fiction? The right book can spark a child’s curiosity and send them off on a lifelong journey through the past, which can make them better prepared for their role in the future.
Andrew Varga is a historian, educator and author of The Last Saxon King: A Jump in Time Novel releasing March 7, 2023. He is based in Ontario, Canada.
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