Max Builds a Time Machine: Torah Time Trav­el Book 1

Carl Har­ris Shu­man, C.B. Deck­er (Illus­tra­tor)

  • Review
By – March 17, 2022

This is part of a com­bined review for Max and Emma Cross the Red Sea: Torah Time Trav­el Book.

Easy-to-read lan­guage and col­or­ful illus­tra­tions make these two time-trav­el adven­ture tales based on sto­ries in the Torah excel­lent intro­duc­tions to bib­li­cal char­ac­ters. Pro­tag­o­nists Max and Emma use a home-made time machine to trav­el to ancient times, where they par­tic­i­pate in events they have only learned about in Hebrew school.

In the first book, Max has lit­tle patience for his class­mate Emma. When Max finds him­self in Abra­ham and Sarah’s tent along with three mys­te­ri­ous strangers, he learns an impor­tant les­son about hos­pi­tal­i­ty and about the prop­er way to greet and inter­act with strangers. When Max returns, he is kinder and more accept­ing of Emma, and the two start to become friends. A Note for Fam­i­lies” is append­ed, sum­ma­riz­ing and extend­ing some of the lessons Max has learned dur­ing his time trav­el experience.

In the sec­ond sto­ry, Max and his fam­i­ly are prepar­ing for the Passover seder, and Max devel­ops a case of stage fright while con­tem­plat­ing singing the Four Ques­tions. This time, his new friend, Emma, and her poo­dle, Kelev, accom­pa­ny Max on his time machine adven­ture. They arrive at the Red Sea short­ly before the Israelites are ready to plunge into the water in order to escape the Egyp­tians, who are chas­ing them and who hope to rein­state them as slaves. They meet Nachshon, the first of the Israelites to brave the sea before it splits, allow­ing them to pass in safe­ty. Max learns some impor­tant lessons about brav­ery and that through­out his­to­ry, pub­lic speak­ing has been a daunt­ing task for many, includ­ing Moses. Anoth­er Note to Fam­i­lies” append­ed to the sec­ond sto­ry encour­ages chil­dren to face and over­come their fears.

Both books are fun to read and help chil­dren and their fam­i­lies think about bib­li­cal sto­ries in a new light, draw­ing atten­tion to con­nec­tions in their own lives, which will help them become kinder and more con­fi­dent as they mature. Schools and par­ents will wel­come this series as part of a larg­er con­ver­sa­tion about Jew­ish and gen­er­al val­ues that affect chil­dren’s dai­ly lives.

Michal Hoschan­der Malen is the edi­tor of Jew­ish Book Coun­cil’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A for­mer librar­i­an, she has lec­tured on top­ics relat­ing to lit­er­a­cy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.

Discussion Questions