A few months ago, author Eileen Schnabel sent us her young adult novel, “One if by Land, Two if by Submarine” for a gander. Not being specialists in middle school fiction, we turned to an expert, my 13-year old daughter, Abigail, who is a voracious reader and read the novel over the holiday break. Here is her review:
Abigail Sterner, Book Review of Eileen Schnabel, One if by Land, Two if by Submarine, (Reston, VA: Curiosity Quills Press, 2018), Digital Edition.
One if by Land, Two if by Submarine, by Eileen Schnabel, is a perfect blend of historical and science fiction. The story centers around Kep, a 13-year-old boy who enjoys swimming. He and his genius, history-obsessed younger brother Max, go to a Revolutionary War reenactment camp for a competition with a grand prize of $200 dollars. It isn’t clear exactly what the competition involves, but it serves the purpose of bringing several main characters together into a team. The team starts out with Max and Kep. They are later joined by the daughter-of-a-Senator-turned-animal-rights-activist named Tella. The fourth and final member of the team is an aspiring actor named T.J. During the competition, the four discover that they must travel back in time to prevent someone from foiling the famous ride of Paul Revere. Thus, the kids have to save the American Revolution before it can even begin.
Along the way, the team meets a variety of historical characters, (real and fictional). They also face some of the political challenges of 1775, which would divide the nation for many years thereafter. The decision to join the rebellion creates a particular dilemma, since the kids understand that the country the Patriots will create will maintain slavery. This decision brought up the question of liberty and the true meaning of freedom, a debate that would later cause the bloodiest war in American history. With gripping plot twists, readers will hang on until the very end of the story. Of course, there’s even a submarine. Will the team save the future of the United States? Read One if by Land, Two if by Submarine to find out.
I enjoyed this book because it combined two genres that normally don’t go together. It also has strong female characters who don’t rely on men to save then, along with a group of kids who get things done. The writing contained a lot of humor and sarcasm, which made the story even more enjoyable. The only thing I would change is the slow start, though once I read farther into it, the action picked up. I would recommend this book to advanced readers in 4th, 5th and 6th grade, though some older kids may enjoy it. Overall, I enjoyed One if by Land, Two if by Submarine by Eileen Schnabel.