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“No one pays attention to servants. They have a blind spot when it comes to us. We are like air. They just move through us, never giving us pause,” Jane the fool. –The Portal    

The Portal

Tangled in Time #1

by Kathryn Lasky
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Rose lives an ordinary life with her mother. She loves her friends and has a fashion blog, which has a lot of hits. Everything changes when Rose’s mom is killed in an auto accident. Rose is sent to live with a grandmother she barely knows. To make life worse, a group of mean girls makes fun of Rose’s fashion-forward looks. Now Rose must deal with being the target of bullying as well as trying to understand her grandmother’s dementia.

Rose finds peace in her grandmother’s greenhouse. One night, a strange glowing light appears in the greenhouse. When Rose goes to investigate, she is thrown five hundred years into the past. Rose is now the servant of Elizabeth, the daughter of King Henry VIII. When Rose finds a locket with two mysterious pictures in it, she begins to wonder about her own past. Can the locket reveal mysteries about her parents?

Rose goes back and forth between the present and the past. Although many connections are made between the two time periods, some readers may not like the jumpy nature of the story. As Rose goes into the past, the reader learns fun facts about the time period as well as gets a peek into the dynamics of the royal family. Rose’s love of fashion is integrated into the story, and Rose includes pictures of the time period’s clothing and shoes as part of her blog. In both time periods, the author’s theme is clear: all people should be treated with respect and kindness.

Readers will be able to relate to Rose, who is not portrayed as a perfect character. Rose struggles with fitting in, and even though she recognizes that people should be treated with kindness, she doesn’t always show kindness herself. However, Rose is lovable because of her curious nature and her willingness to stick up for others.

Even though The Portal doesn’t explain the magic of time travel well, readers will still find the fast-paced story enjoyable. The conclusion feels a little rushed, and not all of the pieces fit well together. Despite this, The Portal is an entertaining read that has a dash of historical facts. Younger readers who enjoy time travel stories with strong female characters may also want to read The League of Archers and Ruby Red Trilogy.

Sexual Content

  • None


  • Mean girls push Rose into her locker and then shut it. Rose felt a shove and then “her head banged against metal; then there was a slam. Complete darkness.”
  • When Rose goes back in time, she meets Princess Elizabeth, whose father was King Henry the Eighth. The King, “chopped off her mother’s head.” Later in the story, one of the characters thinks about the King’s dead wives. “People didn’t talk about witches, not since the king had chopped off his wife’s head, Queen Anne. But that was four wives ago. Of course, after Anne, the second head to roll was Catherine Howard’s a few years ago, but she wasn’t considered a witch, just a wanton seductress.”
  • While ice skating, a mean girl intentionally runs into another girl, making her fall.
  • A group of mean girls chase Rose and throw things at her. Rose “heard the girls closing the distance and shoved an empty trash can that clanked down the alley towards them. . . She heard someone take a hard fall and gasp as if the air had been knocked out of her.” Rose’s cat, “sailed over her head, her claws spread in attack mode.”
  • While back in time, a group chases a “fool” and throws eggs at her. When Rose talks to the girl, she says, “But I’m a fool. Fools are born to be teased.”

Drugs and Alcohol

  • A mean girl spreads a rumor about a teacher. The girl “claimed Ms. Elfenbach was drunk or something when she graded a test last year. She started a rumor that she was an alcoholic.”
  • Rose’s father wants to talk to her, but wants to wait “until evening, when most of the people were well into their cups and might not notice if he carefully approached her.”


  • Good Lord, oh my God, Oh God, and OMG are infrequently used as an exclamation. For example, Rose thinks, “OMG, I’d die for those shoes!”
  • Darn is said a few times.
  • When Rose goes back in time, she calls someone a “jerk.” Others pick up the term and occasionally use it.
  • One of Rose’s friends says that a mean girl was “going to have (her dad) sue me for libel when I called her a jerk. . . The funny thing is, her dad is kind of a jerk.”
  • Someone calls a boy a “sack of pig droppings.”


  • Rose has a gene that allows her to time travel. The magic of time travel is not explained, and Rose does not understand what causes her to go back in time. When Rose goes back to the future, those in the past are not aware of her absence.

Spiritual Content

  • When someone uses the phrase “God’s kneecaps,” Rose thinks it is “the most fun swear ever. . . She pictured God sitting on a throne of cumulus clouds. His flowing celestial garments hiked up a bit, exposing knobby old knees crowning skinny, slightly hairy legs. Maybe God would be groaning a bit— ‘Oh, lamentations! My arthritis is kicking up again!’”
  • Princess Mary is, “very religious. She spends a lot of time in the chapel.” The fact that her father was a protestant and she was Catholic is discussed. Rose remembers reading that Mary was “England’s most horrific monarch. . . Her passion for God and burning Protestants had earned her the name.”
  • Princess Mary flogs “a servant whom she suspected of heresy. Dressed in fine gowns but with bare knees, she (Princess Mary) would crawl on stone to offer her prayers to the Virgin Mary. She was so proud of those knees if they were bloodied by the end of the ritual. It was rumored that she beat herself on Good Friday in penitence for Christ’s crucifixion.”
  • Princess Elizabeth says that “A king or a queen can’t be wrong. Nor can a princess who might someday become queen. It’s their divine right.” They are not God, but they are “given that right by God.”
  • A character prays to God.
  • When the king dies, the “servant mourners” had to “fall to their knees and pray for the soul of their king.”
  • A servant tells Rose, “The court regards people like myself as a curious little aberration that was created by God for the sole entertainment of royalty and court.”




Other books by Kathryn Lasky
Other books you may enjoy

“No one pays attention to servants. They have a blind spot when it comes to us. We are like air. They just move through us, never giving us pause,” Jane the fool. –The Portal    

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