The first book of the Tennis Shoes Adventure Series.
Jim Hawkins has a bad attitude. What's more, he enjoys having a bad attitude about everything especially about church. Garth Plimpton is a fanatic. He's spent so much time studying the scriptures and thick books on archeology that he can't carry on a normal conversation with other kids. That's why they consider him a nerd.
Through an unusual chain of events, these two opposites become fast friends. Following a faded Indian legend, Garth and Jim accidentally stumble upon a mysterious passageway hurling them into another world an ancient American world.
Join Jim, Garth, and Jim's pesky little sister, Jennifer, as they journey in a land where the names Helaman, Teancum, and Captain Moroni are more than just words on a page. A world where danger and suspense are a way of life. . .
Tropes appearing in Tennis Shoes Among The Nephites:
- Aliens Speaking English: Lampshaded and justified.
- Anti-Climax: Instead of a final battle, Teancum sneaks into Amalickiah's tent at night and kills him in his sleep. Done on purpose, since the whole point is striking when least expected.
- And Now You Must Marry Me: A ten-year-old Jenny is forced to be a potential concubine for Amalickiah, since among other things, her blond hair and white skin make her the only one of her kind in ancient times.
- Annoying Younger Sibling: Jenny plays this role, only coming along because she threatens to tell their mom what Jim and Garth are doing.
- Big Bad: Amalickiah, the Nephite-turned-Lamanite fascist. In the period we see, he's become king of the Lamanites after years of backstabbing to get there and is preparing to march on the Nephites.
- Big Damn Heroes: After being rescued from Amalickiah and their rescuer being killed, his murderer prepares to kill Jim and Garth. He pulls back his bowstring ... and is shot by another archer, who turns out to be a member of Captain Teancum's party.
- Bavarian Fire Drill: Halfway through the story, some Amulonites (a small ethnic group) infiltrate a war camp and steal supplies because they act like they belong. At the end, Teancum does the same thing to infiltrate Amalickiah's time.
- Been There, Shaped History: Jim is revealed to be the unnamed servant that came with Amalickiah to kill Teancum. He's allowed to come so they can try to retrieve Jenny on the way.
- Better to Die than Be Killed: At least one co-conspirator decides to kill himself rather than be arrested.
- Big Damn Kiss: Jim has one with Menochin before he has to leave.
- The Clan: The ancient Americans are shown living with their extended families (referred to as kinships) and even shipping out to war with their war-worthy members.
- Cool Old Lady: Jim's grandma is one. A little manic sometimes, but at least she's determined to be positively involved in her grandkids' life.
- Cool Sword: Since it's very difficult to forge metal swords in their time, everyone has spike-studded clubs. Except for Teancum, who has one of the few they do have. It's unclear if it's an Ancestral Weapon or his role as captain merits him one.
- Chekhov's Gunman: The Amulonites' infiltrating the camp becomes important later.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The only book where the story is described as being written down in-universe. See Framing Device for more details.
- Everyone Loves Blondes: In a case of Truth in Television, Jenny's blond hair makes her a total anomaly in ancient America, and unfortunately draws some unwanted attention.
- Exact Eavesdropping: Jim and Garth eavesdrop on a meeting of conspirators and overhear their plans to overthrow the current government.
- Fancy Dinner: Jim and Garth get to have a great feast with Teancum's kinship.
- Fish out of Temporal Water: The central trio. It takes about a week for them to start grasping it.
- Foregone Conclusion: Those who have read the Book of Mormon know that the war won't end for several more years.
- They also know that eventually Teancum will be killed pulling a repeat performance of his assassination on Ammoron.
- Framing Device: Due to adult Jim losing his memories of the adventure, he finds his old writings and assumes they're a fanciful story still worth publishing in the book you hold. A prologue and epilogue Bookend this.
- Hero Secret Service: While serving as translators, Jim and Garth are each allowed to pick ten soldiers to serve as their bodyguard. Since they're both valuable assets, this is a strategically sound decision.
- Historical Domain Character
- Killed Off for Real: Amalickiah, as the canon dictates.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: The kids are warned that if they treat their special testimony-building experience as a story to tell just anyone their memories of it will fade. Garth keeps a lid on it, but Social Butterflies Jim and Jenny share them almost immediately and end up forgetting. For now, that is.
- Mildly Military: As in the Book of Mormon, the Nephites seem to mainly have captains and chief captains. Having smaller numbers compared to modern militaries, no units or branches, and most men being divided by clan affiliation are a few explanations for this.
- Intoxication Ensues: Early in the book, a combination of peer pressure and Nobody Calls Me "Chicken"! makes a thirteen-year-old Jim guzzle a can of beer in front of his peers. He subsequently vomits it up in front of his mom, who figures out why instantly. Since his religion forbids drinking and he's also thirteen his parents are pretty upset.
- Medieval Morons: The Lamanites are noted to be very superstitious and reliant on their priests for structure. Teancum decides to maximize this by killing Amalickiah on the last night of the years so they'll wake up to a new one with their leader dead, a terrible omen.
- Memento MacGuffin: Jim is given blue-stone ring by Menochin to remember her by. It ends up being important in the next book.
- Narnia Time: The kids spend roughly two months in Nephite times and when they return, expect to have to explain why they've been missing and just face the consequences. But when they get back, it turns out to be late at night on the same day they left, and their mothers are just upset with them for staying out so late.
- Narrative Profanity Filter: In a fit of rebellion, Jim tells his parents (at the dinner table) to "get off my _____ ______'ing back!" Since they don't swear much in his family, it's not well-received.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: The Lamanite Middoni succumbs to conscience and rescues Garth and Jim from being executed. The rest of the Lamanites know it must've been him and kill everyone in his kinship, and then he's killed by his kinship's last survivor in retaliation.
- Omniglot: Jim and Garth are recruited to be translators for the Nephite army. They're a tremendous boon, since the army is struggling with unity in the face of language barriers and cultural diversity. Having individuals who can speak every language perfectly does a lot to build a shared identity.
- Puppy Love: Jim has a short romance with a girl named Menochin.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Teancum is A Father to His Men and gives Jim and Garth a very fair deal; serve as translators for a time with minimal danger and a lot of protection, and well help you get Jenny back.
- The Smart Guy: Garth is the one who puts the pieces together first. In addition, he knows that America is named after Amerigo Vespucci.
- Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Killing Amalickiah doesnt end the war, as his supporters and brother simply take up the cause in his stead.
- Teens Are Monsters: Jim is going through a rebellious phase and does some hurtful things.
- Translator Microbes: Explained in detail in this book by Garth as he puts the pieces together. No one in this time should be speaking English, but they KNOW people speak different languages because they dont understand each other. The only conclusion they can reach is that time traveling has given them the gift of tongues and the gift of interpretation of tongues. Per Book of Mormon doctrine, this is the ability to speak and understand foreign languages, not a proclaiming of future events or incoherent rambling upon contact with spiritual power.
- Young Future Famous People: One of Jims friends in the army is a young lad named Hagoth, who will get his own chapter in the Book of Mormon later.