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Justin Thyme by Panama Oxridge
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Reviewed by Marta Morrison for TeensReadToo.com

I absolutely loved Justin Thyme. It was a roller-coaster of a story. It had adventure, mystery, humor, and fantasy. I especially loved the glossary and appendix which was at the end of the book. It had the definitions of the scientific words which were used but also defined the college prep words and the Scottish words that are bewitching to us U.S. readers. As a young reader I absolutely hated having to look up a word when I am in the midst of a good story. I was lucky and had a mother who would tell me definitions but a lot of teachers and parents think it is better to have the reader look up the word. Well, I wouldn't do that because then I would have to find the dictionary, look up the word, and hope that I would understand the definition. When I have the glossary in the back of the book I am more likely to look up the word. I also think it enables the writer to write better and not have to water down her/his story.

I also loved the play on words in the story. The main character is Justin Thyme: "just in time," get it!!! Ha Ha!!! His whole family is a play on the word time. Robyn Thyme is his older sister, his baby brother is Albion Thyme, his mother is Henny Thyme, his father is Willoughby Thyme, and his grandfather is Lyall Austin Thyme.

Justin's father is the Lord of Thyme Castle. He would be broke except that thirteen-year-old Justin invented an alarm system for cell phones. Justin is a genius and he is also the family wage-earner. Also at the castle live Verity Kiss, the nanny, Professor Gilbert, Justin's private tutor, Angus and Morag Gilliechattan, the married couple who are the gardener and the housekeeper. Elisa the gorilla also lives with them and is a talking gorilla! She adds a lot of humor. The Gilliechattan's also have a Shakespeare-loving parrot, and a cat with eight legs.

The story starts with Justin's thirteenth birthday. He receives a cool watch and can't figure out who gave it to him--but when his mother gets kidnapped the fun starts. In a moment of pure inspiration he invents a time machine, which gets involved with the kidnapping and the new hiring of castle staff. The non-studious Robyn and Justin start trying to solve the mystery and what a roller-coaster ride this becomes.

This is the first of the four in THE TARTAN OF THYME book series. I am counting the thyme until book two comes out because I loved this book so much. Also check out the web site. It is amazing! ( )
  GeniusJen | Oct 11, 2009 |
I've just had wonderful day reading `Justin Thyme'. Not only is the lead character a bit of a play on words but so are the rest of his family. Ranging from Henny to Albion and Robyn the names are very clever. The plot revolves around a young boy is a self-made millionaire living in Scotland in a castle, the plan of which is provided on the first few pages. Justin's mother gets kidnapped, his father dramatically remembers events previously forgotten and all the staff from the castle has a role to play in this excellent children's novel.

Clues to the author's real identity are spattered throughout the novel as well as other clues to solve. Even as an adult I couldn't identify the true identity of Panama Oxbridge but I'm sure all will be revealed anyway as time goes on. This novel is the first in a series of four and I am sure I will not be alone in seeking out the other three - if only to find out who wrote them!

The actual website promoting the book is fabulous and well worth a visit, lots to do on there. As far as children's books go, this is great. It's funny, clever and intriguing; a great adventure from beginning to end. I could see elements of other children's adventurers in the name of Artemis Fowl and Alex Rider but I have to say I enjoyed this adventure more. It had the appeal of adult fiction in the way Harry Potter does.

I wish some adult thrillers/adventures would follow the ideas in `Justin Thyme' - once the crime has been solved the footnotes help you work out where the clues were in the novel. Something I could with in adult novels to be honest. The glossaries provided will be excellent for children as they would really help with some of the scientific terms let alone the Scottish dialect.

Apart from the main characters of the story there is Eliza the Gorilla (well actually she really is a main character) and Tybalt the cat which had an `incident' with a spider and now has eight legs! As well as these there is a parrot who quotes Shakespeare continually - fabulous! An endless treat for children with wonderful descriptions the like of which Roald Dahl could've written - the Professor, Butler and Cook are a delight. The ambigrams and illustrations help the novel become more visual for younger readers and make it entertaining for the older generations.

Throughout the book you are told to beware procrastination and I was amused to see this illustrated on the back cover through italics. Other hints and clues are evident and you have to make a decision at the end of the novel to either go straight back and try to find out who the author is amongst other puzzles or just accept in the words of the novel that `everything is connected to everything else'.

This novel really does have something on a different level for adults to identify than it does for children. There are hidden clues and puzzles to be solved that I couldn't identify but I'm sure I would if I were to read it again. To be honest I think I will beware procrastination and just enjoy it as an excellently well-written novel and wait patiently for the next instalment (if I can!). ( )
  SmithSJ01 | Mar 23, 2008 |
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"Although set in the present, the book you are holding has not been written ... yet! This enigmatic literary paradox was recently unearthed by a highly respected cryptozoologist exploring subterranean caverns beneath a ruined Scottish castle. The chest he found contained a hand-written manuscript of the entire Tartan of Thyme with a strange explanatory note dated 01/04/26. Nothing else is known about its mysterious author, Panama Oxridge, except that he or she will be born sometime early next year"-- Cover verso.… (more)

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