The Worst Guest

A Middle Grade Book Review

Time Villains by Victor PiƱeiro

Publication Date: July 6, 2021

Summary from NetGalley:

Story Thieves meets Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library in this wacky, hilarious, and fast-paced middle-grade series starter, with the perfect combination of magic, imagination, and adventure.

Javi Santiago is trying his best not to fail sixth grade. So, when the annual “invite any three people to dinner” homework assignment rolls around, Javi enlists his best friend, Wiki, and his sister, Brady, to help him knock it out of the park.

But the dinner party is a lot more than they bargained for. The family’s mysterious antique table actually brings the historical guests to the meal…and Blackbeard the Pirate is turning out to be the worst guest of all time.

Before they can say “avast, ye maties,” Blackbeard escapes, determined to summon his bloodthirsty pirate crew. And as Javi, Wiki, and Brady try to figure out how to get Blackbeard back into his own time, they might have to invite some even zanier figures to set things right again…

ARC provided by Sourcebooks Kids via NetGalley for an honest review.

Confession:

This was a really fun book and a good start to a new series. I enjoyed the characters and the setting of the school and town was pretty cool too. The magic table was even cute and had a little bit of a personality.

Javi is a typical middle schooler, he is just an average student, but he loves to cook and apparently is pretty good at it. He is pretty creative and smart in his own way, and can be brave when he needs to be. He does depend on his friend, Wiki, and his sister, Brady to help him out on his adventures. It was nice to see a sibling relationship that was supportive, but with some good natured teasing. We only saw Javi’s dad a little bit, but he seemed to have a good relationship with his kids, even though he was a little clueless to what was going on.

Blackbeard was sort of the star of the book, even though we don’t see anything through his point of view. I like how after another kid said something about him not talking like a pirate, he went and found out how we modern people think pirates should talk. By the end he sounded more like a movie pirate than a real one, which I found quite amusing.

There are lots of other historical figures through out the book that are hiding out in the town and the school under different names. Once this is discovered it was kind of fun trying to figure out who everyone was. It also comes to light that the table doesn’t just summon people from history, but also literary figures as well. Some kids will be familiar with these characters, but others won’t be people kids have heard of. There was a nice who’s who at the end of the book to help readers out.

The story was pretty fast moving and interesting enough to keep you going. It maybe dragged a little in the middle, but the ending makes up for that. There was a nice weaving of Puerto Rican traditions into the story as well, which was a nice touch. There was also a lot of talk of Puerto Rican food which made me hungry.

A solid start to another fun middle grade series. A nice twist to time travel as well, with the historical characters and book characters coming to the present day. This twist could end up with some interesting stories in the next books.

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