Once again, Sam used the stone and the coins to try and find his father.
Sam knew where his father was—in Dracula's castle, locked in one of the dungeon cells, in the fifteenth century. He even know which cell he'd been in, because he'd scratched "HELP ME SAM" on the cell wall. And Sam also know how to get to him—more or less, anyway. He'd have to travel in time, using the stone statue in the basement of his father's bookstore, and two ancient coins with holes in the centers. If he could choose the right coin, it would take him to his father's time and place.
This time his cousin Lily was with him, an accident he couldn't correct while escaping from one jam after another. In Athens, Greece, Sam spoke to the Oracle of Delphi. Back when men still lived in caves and carried clubs, he was almost eaten by a huge bear, then almost murdered by suspicious tribesmen, but Lily was able to rescue him and escape through time. They landed in an unfamiliar city, in the basement of a huge Roman bath.
It was where men could get the latest news, and do their business while relaxing in warm water. Lily went to work on the women's side, but Sam was unlucky enough to attract the owner's attention, and every job he was ordered to do was worse than the one before. Finally he was sent to help stoke the fires that kept the water in the huge baths hot and steaming.
Suddenly, the earth shook, and dust and rocks rained down, and several of the huge logs rolled out of the fire. That was warning enough. Sam and the two men he'd been working with ran up to the street, which was full of frightened people. Lily found Sam almost immediately and gave him the bad news. That tall mountain with black smoke drifting out of its peak was Vesuvius, and the town they were in was Pompeii, the city that was buried in volcanic ash so quickly that no one had time to flee. Archeologists would dig them up centuries later, frozen in the midst of doing their daily chores.
The eruption had begun. Would Sam and Lily be able to find the stone in time to escape, or would there be two more bodies for those archeologists to dig up?
This booktalk was written by Joni Richards Bodart, university professor, librarian, YA consultant and internationally known booktalker.