Middle Grade Time Travel Book: One If By Land, Two If By Submarine


If you need a middle grade time travel book for your child, grandchild, and one that has a lot of great historical content, I’ve got you! A debut middle grade time travel / historical fiction is out this month, written by Eileen Schnabel! It’s fast-paced and full of action, with an easy-to-like team of characters. 

PODCAST above!Me, recording a podcast

Middle Grade Time Travel Book

Summary from Goodreads:

When Paul Revere is kidnapped by a time traveler determined to change the outcome of the American Revolution, twelve-year-old Kep Westguard is sent to Boston, 1775, to take his famous midnight ride. Kep’s four-person team has twenty-four hours to light the famous lanterns at Old North Church, warn Lexington and Concord that the British are coming, and rescue John Hancock and Samuel Adams from hanging as traitors to the crown.

As the clock ticks, one teammate is arrested as a runaway slave, a British watchman stops another from lighting the lanterns, and Kep nearly drowns when he attempts to cross the Charles River in a Patriot inventor’s prototype wooden, hand-crank submarine. When Hancock and Adams ask Kep to sneak a trunk of critical papers out from under the eyes of the British Army during the Battle of Lexington, Kep has to decide how much he’s willing to sacrifice for his country. If he fails, there will be no America to return to.

 clock mechanism

 I  love time travel novels! And I love middle grade fantasy! (for more middle grade book recommendations, click here!) Plus, book sneaks in a lot of historical facts into the fast-paced action. Unsuspecting middle school kids won’t even notice they’re learning. (I learned a thing or two myself!) 

The plot is tight, the adventure never stops, and the four time traveler characters are engaging, quirky, and relatable. I can’t wait for book 2! Great news is that this is a series.  

Book jacket front and back


I was lucky enough to catch busy author Eileen Schnabel to answer a few questions for us!

Who is your favorite character? (I can’t decide if mine is Tela the animal-loving sharpshooter or smart, sensitive Max!)

That would be like trying to choose a favorite child – at least among the four teammates.  They are all my favorites – each with different strengths and weaknesses.  They’ve lived so long in my head that I sometimes hear them bickering as I’m typing up a scene.  They are a chatty bunch! 

Why the American revolution? 

There is small cemetery in our town that I sometimes walk in.  I enjoy finding old and unusual names and imagining the lives of those who lived long before me.  One day I saw a plaque of a Revolutionary War soldier, a man who’d served with George Washington as a teen.  I was fascinated – Wisconsin wasn’t even a state during the revolution and I tried to imagine his life, his sacrifices fighting for the country, what surely had to be his worry that the Americans would never successfully beat the ‘greatest war machine’ in the world, the British.  I wondered if modern Americans realized the sacrifices involved; if we were still that tough?  I decided I’d send a team of kids to explore both questions. 

Coolest thing you uncovered during your research? 

 I uncovered SO many cool things while researching – Washington’s spy ring, secret coded messages including how laundry was hung on a line, women who served as soldiers by hiding their gender, some rather unpleasant medical techniques – bone saws anyone?  But one of the coolest was probably learning about the Turtle – the world’s first submersible built in 1775 by an American to use against the British Navy by attaching explosive charges to ships in the harbor. An Australian friend who’d read the book recently sent me a picture from the Spy Museum in Washington, DC of a replica of the Turtle.  

First submarine
First War Submarine!

If you could live in any time period, what would it be? 

 I would definitely pick NOW!  While it would be enormously fun to visit historical times and places, the freedoms we’ve achieved in this country are something I treasure and appreciate!  And I prefer modern dentistry 🙂 

I understand that, having practiced dentistry for ten years!

Coffee or tea?

Tea! Those colonists who boycotted tea were strong souls indeed!  I can’t imagine starting my day with anything other than my tea. But I like to think if I’d been there during the Revolution I’d have given it up right along with the other patriots. 

Coffee w press pot

They must have been strong souls! Although I’m more of a coffee girl myself, I bet the colonists had caffeine headaches without their tea! And they wouldn’t have any Tylenol, either!

City or country? 

Country.  I love visiting cities, but I’m happiest hiking outdoors with my dog Piper in one of Wisconsin’s beautiful state parks.  

Sweet or salty?

Both! My favorite treat is Dr. Pepper and popcorn!

My boxer Louie loves popcorn!

Book two? 

Book two is based on the battles of Saratoga, a tipping point in the American Revolution.  I’m currently researching the battle from both sides and preparing to send Kep and the gang to stop the British once again! 

One If By Land, Two If By Submarine is available on Amazon! It’s also available at bookshop.org. See below for affiliate link, meaning I receive a small stipend, which does not affect your cost. Nor Jeff Bezos pocketbook!

Let’s congratulate Ms. Schnabel on her debut by shooting off some fireworks. Fireworks make me think of the Fourth of July.

If you’re curious about how fireworks work, you can read more here.

If you want to read more about submarines this first link is an article about the Turtle. For more about the history of submarines, click here.

I am fairly sure Louie wouldn’t want to step one paw in a submarine! He likes it on dry ground so it’s a good thing he’s not on Kep’s time travel team!


Would you go back in time to save history? And get into that teeny submarine?


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Eva Apelqvist
Eva Apelqvist
November 1, 2019 1:53 pm

No, I would not like to go back in history and I don’t trust myself to save anyone, but the book sounds really awesome. Thanks for sharing about it.

November 1, 2019 7:13 pm

Great book review. I truly enjoyed learning something when I read in this for submarine looks very interesting. Keep up the good work.

Amy Laundrie
November 2, 2019 8:38 am

I would’t relish spending days in a tight submarine, but I would love to travel back in time. If I was still teaching fourth grade, One if by Land, Two if by Submarine would have been a great read aloud.

Laurel Decher
November 4, 2019 2:06 am

What a fun review for a fun book! I love the photo of the submarine.

November 7, 2019 8:40 am

Thanks for reviewing the story! I so enjoyed chatting about it with you! And the fireworks were a great bonus 🙂 Eileen

Susan Berk Koch author

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