When his Uncle gives him a magical book for his birthday, Joe and his two best friends are transported back in time, where they encounter the knights of the round table, a giant, the famous sorcerer Merlin, and a dragon. This fast paced transitional chapter book is thematically similar to Mary Pope Osborne's Magic Treehouse and should appeal to fans of that series. This first book in the series ends satisfactorily but whets the readers' appetite for the sequels. The book's short length and generously spaced text lay-out are perfect for the intended age level. Lane Smith's exaggerated, art deco reminiscent illustrations add interest and often help inform the text. Especially recommended for reluctant male readers in 3rd to 5th grade who should appreciate Scieszka's conversational and authentic "guy" voice.