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Max Builds a Time Machine

CB Decker
A Torah Time Travel Book. When Max time-travels to meet the biblical Abraham and Sarah, he learns the value of welcoming strangers--including Emma, a new girl in his class.
In stock
Product Type:
Printed Material
Grade Level:

What do you get when you combine a cardboard box, some spare parts, and a smartphone? 

A time machine, of course!

Max likes to build things from cardboard, and a time machine is his latest invention. However, he's not so good at building friendships. That's why he's been avoiding Emma, the new girl in class.

When they learn that three angels once visited the biblical Abraham and Sarah, Max and Emma are both bursting with questions. Did the angels have wings? What did they eat? There's only one way for Max to find out: travel back in time to meet Abraham, Sarah, and the angels himself.

He might even learn something about friendship along the way.

About the Author

Carl Harris Shuman is also the author of Max and Emma Cross the Red Sea. When he is not writing stories or lawyering, Carl paints, gardens, and frequently leads Shabbat services at Congregation Chisuk Emuna. He lives with his wife, Beth,  in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and enjoys visiting his grandchildren in Brooklyn.

About the Illustrator

C.B. Decker also illustrated the Avi the Ambulance series and Farmer Kobi's Hanukkah Match. She lives in Eagle Mountain, Utah.

From the Note for Families

Imagine you have just moved to a new neighborhood and don't know anyone in your class, on the playground, or in your synagogue. How would you feel?

Or imagine that somone new in town asks to play with you. Would you give that person a chance? Does it matter what other kids think?

Max may not be so good at building friendships, but he does know how to build things out of cardboard and spare parts--including a time machine! When he travels to biblical times, he discovers what it feels like to be the "new kid on the block" (or in the tent).

It takes imagination to create a time machine and courage to visit the unknown. It also takes imagination to build new friendships and courage to welcome newcomers with an open heart.

What are some things you might do to make a new friend feel more welcome?


This is part of a com­bined review for Max and Emma Cross the Red Sea: Torah Time Trav­el Book.

Easy-to-read lan­guage and col­or­ful illus­tra­tions make these two time-trav­el adven­ture tales based on sto­ries in the Torah excel­lent intro­duc­tions to bib­li­cal char­ac­ters. Pro­tag­o­nists Max and Emma use a home-made time machine to trav­el to ancient times, where they par­tic­i­pate in events they have only learned about in Hebrew school.

In the first book, Max has lit­tle patience for his class­mate Emma. When Max finds him­self in Abra­ham and Sarah’s tent along with three mys­te­ri­ous strangers, he learns an impor­tant les­son about hos­pi­tal­i­ty and about the prop­er way to greet and inter­act with strangers. When Max returns, he is kinder and more accept­ing of Emma, and the two start to become friends. A ​“Note for Fam­i­lies” is append­ed, sum­ma­riz­ing and extend­ing some of the lessons Max has learned dur­ing his time trav­el experience.

In the sec­ond sto­ry, Max and his fam­i­ly are prepar­ing for the Passover seder, and Max devel­ops a case of stage fright while con­tem­plat­ing singing the Four Ques­tions. This time, his new friend, Emma, and her poo­dle, Kelev, accom­pa­ny Max on his time machine adven­ture. They arrive at the Red Sea short­ly before the Israelites are ready to plunge into the water in order to escape the Egyp­tians, who are chas­ing them and who hope to rein­state them as slaves. They meet Nachshon, the first of the Israelites to brave the sea before it splits, allow­ing them to pass in safe­ty. Max learns some impor­tant lessons about brav­ery and that through­out his­to­ry, pub­lic speak­ing has been a daunt­ing task for many, includ­ing Moses. Anoth­er ​“Note to Fam­i­lies” append­ed to the sec­ond sto­ry encour­ages chil­dren to face and over­come their fears.

Both books are fun to read and help chil­dren and their fam­i­lies think about bib­li­cal sto­ries in a new light, draw­ing atten­tion to con­nec­tions in their own lives, which will help them become kinder and more con­fi­dent as they mature. Schools and par­ents will wel­come this series as part of a larg­er con­ver­sa­tion about Jew­ish and gen­er­al val­ues that affect chil­dren’s dai­ly lives.

--Michal Malen, The Jewish Book Council