I read a book while in elementary school in either in 1984 or 85; it was from the school's library, so it likely was a juvenile or young adult book. There were 2 boys from "modern" times, and I don't remember how, but they ended up travelling in time. They tried to get by in the ancient society they ended up in, and decided to play in a sporting tournament playing a game that at the time I thought sounded like lacrosse, where the winners were showered with riches but the losers of the final round were sacrificed.

After visiting a Mayan village in Mexico, the description of the Mayan ball game sounded very similar to the game I remember being described in the book. That's why I want to find it and read it again to see if it was a historical reference. In the book they used some kind of sticks that the boys were able to make better than any other team because of their modern technology knowledge, and ended up playing against another team that made similar style sticks because they observed them in the village and copied the idea.

The boys also met up with a Viking girl who also got mysteriously transported to the same time. She only spoke limited English, and always wore a large fur hat even though they were in a very hot climate. She was part of the team, and when they won, she was forced to take her hat off, and she was taken away to be offered to the gods because of her blonde hair. The boys were worried she was to be sacrificed, but when they found her, she was considered higher stature because of her unique hair colour and instead was being treated like royalty.

I don't remember much beyond that. I have a vague memory of a pyramid-like structure on the cover, but I could be remembering wrong. I believe that they felt they could travel back to their proper time if they could get the right things/conditions, which was the big impetus for them winning, and that the girl was a complication, but they hoped to return her to her correct place/time as well. I don't remember how the book ended; it was a little too advanced reading for me, so it's likely I didn't finish it, as I found it difficult to understand even though I found the story fascinating. (Maybe meaning it wasn't really a kids book, even though it was in an elementary school library?) The "boys" seemed older to me, more like late teenagers perhaps (same thing with the girl).

I've tried looking around for possible books, and haven't found anything similar. If anyone has suggestions, or even knows what the book is, I'd appreciate it.


2 Answers 2


What about The Fireball trilogy—Fireball, New Found Land and Dragon Dance by John Christopher?

In the first novel, Fireball, Simon and Brad are cousins who are mysteriously transported to an alternate history Earth, where the Roman Empire did not break up and Europe remains in pre-Dark Ages technology. In an attempt to improve their status in the new realm, Simon and Brad aid the Church, which is oppressed, to launch a coup by introducing the stirrup and the longbow. The coup succeeds, but the boys did not anticipate the Church as a state power would force everyone in the Empire to convert or die. At the end of the first book, they sail away to the New World, which in the realm, was not discovered yet by the Old World.

At the beginning of this novel, they managed to reach the American continent safely. They are received warmly enough by the native tribes in North America, but soon find themselves yearning for more advanced civilizations.

Trekking across the continent, they head for the only civilization in America which has significant urban living - the Aztecs. As the Roman Empire has persisted in Europe of this realm until the 20th century due to unchanging externalities, the Aztec too has continued without encounters from the Europeans' discovery of the New World.

  • Can you expand your answer with elements from these books that match the question's description?
    – user1027
    Oct 13, 2012 at 3:30
  • 1
    I think this might be it! No wonder it was confusing, it was the second book in a series. It's out of print, so I'll have to see if I can find a used copy somewhere. Thanks for the suggestion! Oct 15, 2012 at 22:37
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    @JohannaMantsinen: If this does turn out to be the right one, please come back and click on the checkmark to accept it.
    – FuzzyBoots
    May 3, 2016 at 12:43

"Find The Feathered Serpent" by Evan Hunter

A 16-year-old and his companion travel by time machine to a Yucatan of more than a thousand years ago to search for the origins of the Maya god, Kukulcan.

  • Can you add more details on why you think this is the correct answer? Apr 18, 2015 at 20:38

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