The Adventures of Bubba Jones: Time Traveling through the Great Smoky Mountains (Amazon affiliate link) is the latest book by Jeff Alt. I received a free copy in exchange for my honest review.
I have been reading this book to my children, who are five and seven at the moment. They could sit through up to four chapters of this book at a time. The book has 16 chapters and, as such, it could be read as a family in a week. The chapters are short, about seven pages long on average. We read it in the evening for our bedtime story time, as well as in the car, during a family trip we took out-of-state. As the kids got antsy on the backseat, I pulled the book out and started reading, showing them an illustration as we came upon it. Each chapter has one black-and-white illustration which captures the most important scene of that chapter.
Overall, I would recommend this to any family trying to awaken an interest in hiking and the Smokies. We all need to work towards that goal. Children log in way too many hours playing video games and watching TV, resulting in poor thinking skills and obesity, not to mention a terrible disconnect from nature and ecology. The book is entertaining and educational at the same time. My kids love it and they ask for more as we finish each chapter.
We happen to live in the Smokies, so we love all the places mentioned and we know most of them from having been there. When the story took the Jones family back in time to Lucretia Oliver’s cabin in Cades Cove, I told the children we were there in 2011 for Mother’s Day. They don’t remember because they were one and four at the time, but it was a neat memory to share with them while reading this book.
The plot is simple: Bubba Jones and his sister take a trip through the Smokies with their parents and extended family, learning about all the people that have ever lived through these places and how the National Park came to be. They travel through time using a family skill passed on to Bubba by his grandfather.
Hiking and camping tips are shared in a relaxed way, and one even reads about how to act when running into a black bear in the Park. At the end of the book, you will find a section with questions that check reading comprehension and retention.
Overall, this would be a great book to read before, during and after your trip in the Smokies. Kids love it and learn a few things, too. I believe Jeff Alt has embraced a great cause: that of inspiring the next generation with a love of nature and hiking. This book is part of his efforts as an avid hiker and award-winning writer to accomplish that mission. It looks like this is only the first volume in a National Parks series, so stay tuned for forthcoming volumes on other parks.
The book can be picked up at different gift shops in the National Park, as well as on Amazon. It is only $9.18, which is a great price for a book that has 180 pages, including an educational section in the back.
For your information, the book does mention the theory of evolution as a fact in one place. Chapter 3 states that the Smokies are at least 460 million years old. Regardless of where you stand on this issue, you can read the book and not have to worry too much about earth origins. The main thrust of the book is about hiking, enjoying nature, solving the family mystery of the missing cousin and loving the Smokies.