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Attack at the Arena Review by Brandi Tesreau

(The Imagination Station Series from Focus on the Family)
Marianne Hering and Paul McCusker
Tyndale House
351 Executive Drive
Carol Stream, IL 60188

Focus on the Family presents The Imagination Station, a juvenile chapter book series recommended for ages 7 and up. Much like the secular Magic Tree House series, the Imagination Station series has characters that go back in time to solve mysteries and meet real historical figures.

In the first book, Voyage with the Vikings, Mr. Whittaker, Odyssey's friendly yet slightly enigmatic inventor, finds a strange letter inside the Imagination Station--his most prized invention. The letter states that Albert, one of Mr. Whittaker's long-lost ancestors, will be locked in a tower if a Viking Sunstone isn't found before the new moon. Thus begins the time-travel adventures of cousins Patrick and Beth.

My children and I had the privilege of reading Attack at the Arena, Patrick and Beth's second adventure. In this lighthearted read-aloud, we discover that Albert is still in trouble, and the cousins must visit ancient Rome to retrieve a monk's silver chalice in order to help him. Patrick is disguised as a monk and Beth as a slave. Full of excitement from the very start, the story tells of the cousins almost being eaten by a tiger! They are later separated from each other. Beth is thought to be an escaped slave and is taken back to the Roman emperor, while Patrick is captured and forced to participate in the fight-to-the-death games with the rest of Rome's prisoners. Will the cousins reunite and succeed in their quest, or will death and despair be their fate?

In Attack at the Arena, Beth and Patrick encounter Emperor Honorius and a monk named Telemachus--men who really existed. This book would make a fun addition to a study of ancient Rome. Not studying ancient Rome? Assign the book for literature and have your child research the lives of Honorius and Telemachus. I chose to read it aloud to my three children (ages 5, 9, and 11). Also, the book would simply suffice as a pleasure read for children who like mystery and adventure.

I recommend adding this book to your home school library. It provides entertainment and educational content. It upholds moral values. It is inexpensive too--just $4.99. Visit today to order your copy!

Product review by Brandi Tesreau, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April 2011