Reading/Interest Level: Primary, Intermediate
Author: M.E. Castle
Illustrator: Daniel Jennewein
When Becca and her annoying step-brother Sam arrive at Becca's friend’s house looking for a missing library book, it is nowhere to be found. They do find another book though, a copy of Romeo and Juliet. After reading the first line in the play, the book frighteningly expands and consumes the siblings! They emerge from darkness to find that they are in Verona, where the feud between Montagues and Capulets involves pizza empires and stolen recipes. Becca and Sam quickly discover Romeo and hatch a plan to unite him with Juliet. With some help from a prank loving Mercutio and trouble from a revenge seeking Tybalt, they sneak into the Capulet’s party so that Romeo can meet Juliet. The heroes succeed in uniting the young lovers, reading the last line of the play, and returning home.
Parents may expect, due to the title of this book, that the original Romeo and Juliet plot will be loosely followed. However, the story is based mainly on the new characters and their quest to return home. The plot contains a few similarities to the original and some original characters are introduced, but the bulk of the plot is a new storyline. However, the book is full of silly gags and ridiculous situations that the preteen set will appreciate, including prat falls, gag-worthy situations and an annoying narrator whom only the time travelers can hear and with whom they argue by shouting at the sky. The book contains hidden lines and situations from the original play which will only be caught by a reader who knows the play quite well. Clever as these nuggets are, they will be lost on most of the targeted reading group.