Although for youngsters, ‘Thrifty Guide to Ancient Rome’ will delight adults

Published 6:53 am Saturday, May 19, 2018

“The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Rome: A Handbook for Time Travelers” by Jonathan W. Stokes, illustrated by David Sossella (c.2018, Viking$17.99/130 pages)

Who wouldn’t mind a good vacation this summer?

Sure, a little trip north. Or south. Or east, west, anyplace other than where you are. It doesn’t have to be far away — a few miles, a couple states or, as in “The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Rome ” by Jonathan W. Stokes, illustrated by David Sossella, maybe a few thousand years…

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Lucky you! You live in an era when going places is commonplace and so, with that in mind, welcome to the world of time travel, brought to you by “Time Corp” of “New New New New New New New York, AD 2163.” Your destination this summer is Rome, in the time of Caesar, coliseums and Cleopatra.

The first thing you need to keep in mind is safety. There are many ways to die in Rome; in fact, ancient “Rome is an absolute death trap” with floods, starvation, disease and fires. If you actually become emperor while you’re there, add poisoning to that list. If you need to see a doctor, well, don’t. Also, watch your step: horses are everywhere on the streets of ancient Rome.

There’s always something to do while you’re there, and you don’t even have to buy tickets early (though it’s recommended). Stop by the coliseum and catch a gladiator fight, wild animal fight or even a spectator fight. Take a side trip to Pompeii and see it before the volcano erupted. And if you’re really feeling adventurous, Time Corp can arrange for you to be a soldier in the Roman army for a day.

With this great vacation package, you’ll sit down for lunch with Ptolemy XIII, Crassus, Spartacus and of course, Caesar. You’ll know how to be a tourist without looking like a tourist with fashion hints and tips. You’ll also learn how to avoid getting beheaded, how to be like Cleo, how to get married like a Roman and how to avoid Rome ’s nuttiest emperors. Bon voyage!

Summer vacation begins soon, but your child’s teacher says it’s not a reading vacation. So why not add summer + reading in a hilariously interesting way with “The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Rome.”

Wherever your family is going — or not going — this summer, author Stokes takes your child on a colorful, disgusting, wild trip of the imagination, but that’s not all. In between the laughs, both from the “guide book” and from the illustrations by Sossella, kids get a sneaky bit of education.

Using faux-enthusiastic headlines and sidebars (this is a book for “tourists,” after all), Stokes inserts battles, emperors, palace intrigue, Roman entertainment, and real everyday life into his narrative so that kids can’t help but learn while they plan their trip in time. The happy bonus is that if you pick up this book, you’ll see how absolutely funny it is for grown-ups, too.

So pack your bags. Pack your backpack, and be sure to take “The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Rome.” For 8-to-12-year-olds who are ready to go, this could be the trip they had in mind.