As a parent of a male child that had the ability to read, but not the interest, I depended on authors and illustrators like Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith to get my son to read. They have the right combination of silliness, grossness, and facts to keep most boys (girls too) reading. The Time Warp Trio books are a perfect choice to transition children into chapter books.
The Time Warp Trio: Tut, Tut follows the same formula of all the books in the series. The trio have a magic book that was a gift from Joe's Uncle, and every time it's opened Sam, Fred and Joe are transported to another time period in history. In this story they are sent to ancient Egypt, and they take Joe's sister Anna and her cat Cleo with them. They arrive in a Pharaoh's tomb and catch the nasty High Priest Hatsnat making plans to steal power away from the Pharaoh in the after life. He tries to set them up as tomb robbers, but his attempts to chop off their hands is thwarted by the boy King Thutmose. He takes them back to the palace to met his aunt Pharaoh Hatshepsut. Once at the palace they have to prove that they are great magicians from another time. Luckily, they find Anna and Cleo and are ready to head back home when Anna is kidnapped. Of course Hatsnat is responsible for Anna's disappearance, and he traps all of the travelers in a chamber under the palace. Anna has to use her friendship with the Goddess Isis to save them and send them home.
Jon Scieszka also knows how to get his target audience's attention. He can tell a good booger joke. He names the bad guy Hatsnat which of course the trio immediately broke out into laughter and jokes; "Hot Snot?...Cold Boogers, Not robbers" (pg. 14) He also has the ability to include activities that students can relate to into events in the actually story. The trio uses basic magician skills to trick the priest and pharaohs into thinking that they had special power. He also has Fred impress the boy king with his "magic sandals" better know as basketball shoes, and they teach the king a few moves that win him over to their side. A long the way he throws in facts about ancient Egypt, stuff that might actually get a student to go looking for a non-fiction book to learn more about history. He has the king and boys talk about the Nile River and its inundation, "Inundation,...When the Nile overflows its backs every year. That's how the fields are swattered and fertilized." (pg. 29) It's just a little fact, but it might just get a kid to look for more information. Isn't that what we want as teachers?
I read this book on a flight over spring break. When I pulled it out of my bag to start reading, my sixteen year old son preceded to tell my that this was not the best one in the series, and then named what he thought was the best one. As I read I noticed that he was reading over my shoulder still laughing at the jokes that made him laugh ten years earlier. Now that's a good book.