The Emerald Atlas - John  Stephens First in a series of three (I'm guessing) about three kids who are supposed to save the world. The only thing is they don't know why and they don't know how...

These three kids, Kate, Michael and Emma are orphans. Their parents had them taken to an orphanage ten years ago with a promise to Kate that they would be back. Since then the children have been shuffled from home to home never giving up on their parents and never allowing themselves to be adopted. They eventually end up in a place called Cambridge Falls and find themselves in a creepy old house with a shrewish housekeeper, Mrs. Swallow, and dotty old groundskeeper called Abraham. The place is supposed to be an orphanage but Kate, Michael, Emma seem to be the only children there. And the mysterious Dr. Pym, who requested the children be sent to him, is not there.

The kids take start to explore this old house and end up down in the basement area where they discover an old laboratory and in the laboratory they find an old book. But this is no ordinary book and when the kids open it all the pages are blank. Michael assumes this is an empty photo album, as there is an old photo sitting next to the book. He sets the photo inside the book and *POOF*! All three kids are transported to the time and place where this photo was taken! From there the story takes off, with an evil Countess and terrible monsters and terrified townspeople to save.

The story was not bad but my problem was that these kids are not very credibly drawn. I mean, I don't think Mr. Stephens has kids, or maybe he's not been around any in a while. The youngest kid, Emma, totally got on my nerves. She's supposed to be eleven years old but she behaves as if she were much, much younger. And they way she "imprinted" on the hero, Gabriel, was just not at all believable, especially for a kid that has never know a father figure, as she was left by her parents before she ever knew them. And the other two, well, they were stereo-typical older and middle children, the oldest being overly-responsible and the middle being a nerdy smarty-pants.

I did enjoy this book, don't let my niggly complaints dissuade you. It wasn't bad at all and I will probably read the next in the series.