Flashback Four: The Pompeii Disaster

Title: Flashback Four: The Pompeii Disaster 

Author: Dan Gutman

Publisher: Harper Collins

Number of pages: 235

Type of Book: Fiction, Non-Fiction, Historical, Adventure

Genre: Middle Grade (MG)

Age: 8 – 12

Buy it here: Twitter/Instagram: @Bookwormcafeng; https://www.amazon.com/Flashback-Four-3-Pompeii-Disaster/dp/0062374451/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=flashback+four+pompeii&qid=1604955382&sr=8-1

Price: N1500; $7.50


In part three of the Flashback Four series, the four tweens travel back in time to AD 79 to take pictures of one of the world’s most devastating natural disasters: the eruption of Mount Vesuvius aka, the day a huge volcano erupted and buried the Roman city of Pompeii in volcanic ash. What seems like a simple mission – dash into Pompeii, find a good spot, take a picture of the volcano, and dash back into the time machine to modern day New York – goes awry when the flashback 4 are kidnapped. The girls become slaves in a laundromat and the boys become gladiators in one of the first amphitheaters ever built, fighting hardened criminals and wild animals. They have one hour to escape captivity and make it out of Pompeii or become part of ancient history. Read the book to find out how it all plays out.


UP: This book was a first for me because it is a book of fiction with elements of nonfiction and I loved the blend of fiction and non-fiction. I loved the narrator’s voice, it was fun and cheeky and he spoke directly to the reader making it even more interesting. Finally, I love that I learnt a thousand and one things. I learnt about Pliny the Younger, the city of Pompeii and volcanoes. The book features a whole section on making a DIY volcano at home! Perfect science experiment for these homeschooling days!

I guess the ultimate highlight is that to celebrate my birthday and my love for history (it bothers on obsession really) my sister and I visited the Getty Villa in Malibu, California last year. The villa is a recreation of the Villa dei Papiri, one of the ancient Roman country homes destroyed during the Pompeii disaster. It was like walking through a time machine. It was really easy to imagine some of the scenes in this book because of the villa.

DOWN: Gosh, the book was about 50 pages too long and incredible slow-paced. These made it book very putdownable! When I read reviews of the series I was shocked to see words like ‘action-packed’, ‘fast-paced’. Ah! I was really confused. I mean, there was some action and a few cliff hangers but fast-paced? No! Long story short, it took 10 whole days to read the book and even at that, it was a struggle. (I read 500-page books in 2 days!) If I didn’t have to read it as mentor text and for the blog as well, I may never have finished reading the book. But hey, thumbs up for the nonfiction elements, they were out of this world. Check the trivia section out for some of the mind rocking ones.


* * * *


  1. Romans used urine to wash their clothes. Yup, they soaked the clothes in tubs filled with old urine and had slaves step in them.
  2. The average male during the Roman Empire stood about five feet tall, i.e. the height of an average 13-year-old boy.


  1. Make a Volcano using the instructions on pages 50 – 54.

CHALLENGE: Flashback Four: The Pompeii Disaster 


  1. Read Pliny the Younger’s letters on the Pompeii Disaster and write a short story about the disaster.

Send your answers to ugochinyelu.anidi@gmail.com.

Entry requirements: Entrants must be within the 8 – 12 age range. The first correct entry will be announced on this page and will win a copy of this book.

Answers must be submitted before 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, November 15th 2020.

Next Book of the Week:

BEASTS MADE OF NIGHT by Tochi Onyebuchi

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