San Francisco Book Review ★ ★ ★ ★ / 5 by David Lloyd Sutton December 12, 2015
Mr. Thorleifson has created something astonishing for a new fiction author; a work of true educational merit that immediately engages interest. Beginning and centered in Yonkers, in the disputed territory between British and Colonial forces in early 1777, economic, social, and political realities of the period are made explicit. Bold line drawings, also by the writer, convey the utilitarian simplicity of buildings, transport, and tools.
Clear intent to teach is established with notes in simple declarative style, a paragraph here, pages-long elsewhere. These are all professionally presented, as though one had a friendly teacher reading along. Some of those insertions are historical background that is not conveyed in the story line, but is necessary for full understanding of the environment through which that tale wends its way. Some are biographical, some financial . . . how shillings and pence and pieces of eight and seasonal scarcity and plenty interacted could have been stultifying. Set this way, these snippets of information are easily learned and remembered. A great contribution for neophyte students of our revolutionary period, and for some of us not so new--come to the era!
Having said that, any experienced editor will wince at frequent telling, rather than showing; where dialogue is employed to relieve the telling, it is sometimes stilted so the read is jarred. None of this detracts from the desire to know what happens next! Point of view shifts enough that a grateful reader needs to leaf back to the Characters page set handily before Chapter one.
This is not Johnny Tremaine for the grade schooler, though the protagonist here, too, is an apprentice, to a carpenter, a trade for which the boy lacks some focus. His sobriquet is “Tim Useless” among his fellows. He is plunged into action on the first page and into serious legal trouble just as fast. In the course of time and while he grows, both physically and mentally, Tim’s adventures pull the reader into frightening military intelligence, a seeking for a murderer, and to a developed self respect. This would be a fine Christmas gift for a youngster or even an elder who likes a good read.
Manhattan Book Review ★ ★ ★ ★/ 5 by Steph Rodriquez December 17, 2015
Thorleifson does a wonderful job evoking the world of Colonial America. The patterns of speech, familiar to many of us from documents of the time, come forth with every word. Tim is a fan of Thomas Paine, and memorizes passages out of his book, which he recites when he is alone. The streets of Yonkers and New York are well-depicted, giving glimpses of life during these times. The faux-woodcut art at the start of each chapter further help to immerse the reader in the era.
One odd thing about the book is how Thorleifson presents his more scholarly bits. In most chapters, he has a set-out paragraph or two detailing some aspect of the life during this time. Colonial slang or wages or other aspects which help the reader understand what is being discussed here. However, rather then offset or put in a footnote, it is at the end of a paragraph, sometimes in the middle of the chapter. There is a slight font difference which helps set it apart, but it seems a little out of place in the middle of a narrative. While interesting and not that disruptive, it seems that this would be better placed in a footnote.
Tim Curious is described as a mystery novel set in colonial America. And there is a mystery that unfolds. But for the most part, it takes a back seat to the descriptions and observations of our protagonist. Tim spends a great deal more time chopping wood or driving his cart then he spends musing over murder suspects.
The struggles of the Colonials, rebelling against the British are more the subject of the book then the murder of Amos Short. Yet you don’t mind, as the era is one that is rarely touched upon, and the author has a deft hand at depicting the era.
Self Publishing Review ★★★★★/5 by: T B Markinson December 18, 2015
Tim Curious: A Murder Mystery of the American Revolution, by Roddy Thorleifson, is a wonderful young adult historical fiction novel that’ll charm readers of all ages.
Historical fiction is such a fantastic way to encourage young adult readers to learn about the past for the simple reason that it doesn’t feel like learning. It’s fun when executed correctly. Fill the pages with too many facts and not enough story elements and it reads more like a textbook. Tim Curious avoids this pitfall. The story is entertaining, exciting, funny, and full of adventure to keep readers invested in the plot. History lessons are present, but it’s secondary to the overall story. Just the way it should be.
Tim and his sister Sadie are excellent characters. Right from the opening pages, the reader is cheering for them. They live in Yonkers with their mother, but their father is married to another woman, making life for the siblings hard. Neither is an adult yet, but both work long hours to keep a roof over their heads and food in their bellies. Yet, the siblings aren’t overly bitter about their station in life. They’re hard workers, honest, and loving towards each other. This makes them endearing.
Tim Euston is often called Tim Useless, a play on his last name. This bullying is pervasive in Yonkers, but Tim is pretty good natured about it. Also, he uses this stigma to his advantage, much to the delight for the reader. Cheering for the underdog is almost a part of the American fabric.
The brother and sister work together piecing together clues about the town’s murder. But that’s not all. Tim finds himself mixed up with people he doesn’t entirely trust. Tim is brave, but he wants to know if his actions are helping the King or the American cause. Sadie is afraid for Tim’s safety. She goes to great lengths to protect her brother. Tim’s journeys back and forth from Yonkers to New York City are fraught with dangers and dread. These scenarios really heighten the suspense and having the siblings so involved in the action is a marvelous way to keep young adults actively engaged in the story.
Roddy Thorleifson is not just an author. He’s also an illustrator and there are many wonderful illustrations that add to the overall presentation of the novel.
Tim Curious is the perfect story for readers of all ages who enjoy American history, intrigue, and adventure. Even American history buffs may learn a thing or two.
Reader Views, Austin Texas by Sheri Hoyte November 14'2015
“Tim Curious” is a delightful mix of mystery and intrigue, sprinkled with healthy doses of history, drama, and humor. Roddy Thorleifson does an excellent job weaving relevant historical facts into his story, educating and entertaining his readers simultaneously. I thought I knew my American history, but was pleased to find that I learned several interesting facts on my journey through the story, and I must admit there were several instances I found myself feeling thankful that I was born a couple of hundred years later.
I loved the characters of Tim and Sadie, brother and sister very much alike in their thinking and mannerisms. The siblings’ forthrightness with each other is engaging and draws a certain loyalty to them, and their efforts to solve the mystery. The book is very nicely illustrated by the author as well. His black and white sketches add an authentic feel to the story and help create a deeper connection to the setting and the characters.
I enjoyed “Tim Curious” by Roddy Thorleifson and recommend it to American history buffs and fans of entertaining light mystery. I think the young adult crowd is perfectly suited for this story with the educational elements and the experiences of a young boy coming of age in the 1700s.
Portland Book Review ★ ★½ / 5 by Kelly Kobayashi December 18,2015
Tim Curious follows the trials and triumphs of young siblings Tim and Sadie during the American Revolution. Beautiful illustrations and historical tidbits following the chapters do assist in creating the appropriate atmosphere. However, Tim Curious is certainly a curiosity to me. Reading it through as a middle grade book, I found the catalytic theme of attempted sexual assault on a fourteen-year-old girl to be abrupt, a bit dark, and out of place. Viewed as young adult fiction, the prose and style seemed too juvenile to convincingly present the same concepts. I felt constantly torn between imagery and language.
The opening line of the first chapter is Sadie’s scream for help. By page two, Tim has come to her rescue, beaten her assailant, and been falsely accused of attempted robbery. The most confusing omission at this point is Sadie herself. She is present on page one and vanishes somewhere before page three. She is in the same street as her attacker, her brother, and several neighborhood boys who heard the commotion - and then she is not. I reread this chapter several times, wondering if it was I or the author who had lost sight of the center of the action. Sister Sadie conveniently exists to be attacked and just as conveniently disappears instead of joining the boys to stand up for her brother. Isn’t it customary for justice officials to ask the victim of an alleged crime what happened?
The overall narrative is rushed, jumbled, and dialogue-heavy. More and more plot points appear. There are attempts to gather evidence against Sadie’s attacker, the mysterious murder of a neighbor, Tim’s time spent in jail with the young man accused of the murder, political intrigue, etc.… Several new names are introduced to the cast of characters, but they each speak in similar long streams, with weakly defined personalities and appearances. Phrases like “an ordinary-looking man” tell the reader nothing, and solid blocks of dialogue do not alleviate the experience.
Tim Curious has atmosphere, direction, and ambition. It is also unfocused, unpolished, and incomplete. My strongest gut reaction to this story is that I want more of it! An adjusted opening that better sets up the characters, their basic relationships, and why readers should care about them. Tightened conversations, cleaning out what doesn’t drive the plot forward or help define a memorable cast. Most definitely, more description of characters, their surroundings, and eighteenth-century life in the colonies.
Whether the author chooses to aim for an elementary or a teen crowd, readers will want to know his story’s entire world.