A Back to the Future–style romp through time, though with more loose ends than a bowl of spaghetti.
Hardly have teen twins Kyle and Emma and their younger brother (and narrator) Max arrived for a stay at their reclusive grandfather’s Texas ranch than the old man announces that he’s about to have a massive heart attack, shows them a working time machine in the basement and sends them out to a nearby paleontological site where they find fossilized sneaker prints among the dinosaur tracks. Then a stranger grabs Emma and vanishes in a flash of light—leaving the remaining sibs and a ranch hand’s bow-wielding daughter Petra to zoom in a Volkswagen Beetle back 70 million–plus years to the rescue. Not only does the late Cretaceous landscape turn out to be well stocked with crocodilian Deinosuchus and other toothy predators, a human gent falsely (as it turns out) claiming to be a refugee from 1919 steps out of the bushes to guide the others to the evidently dino-proof frame house in which Emma is being held. Everyone steams back to the present on the kidnapper’s motor launch, which is also fitted out as a time machine. Showing blithe disregard for potential paradoxes, the author sheds enough light on his byzantine back story to ensure that the protagonists will be taking more trips through time and closes with notes on dinosaurs and on the history of “Robinsonades.”
Action and enthusiasm aplenty, but, like most time-travel tales, not much for internal logic.
(Science fiction. 10-12)
Yolen is the author of a hundred books, many of which have been praised for their originality, humor, or poetic vision, but this thoughtful, compelling novel is unique among them. Hannah, 13, finds the annual Seder—which calls up her grandfather's memories of the death camp he and his sister Eva survived—tedious, the facts distant and unreal. Chosen to perform the ritual of opening the door to Elijah, she finds herself in rural Poland in 1942, as Chaya (life), the heroic girl whose Hebrew name she bears. There, she shares the experiences of villagers who are interrupted during a wedding, transported in a grueling four-day train journey, and delivered to a camp where the commandant routinely chooses victims for the gas chambers. At the camp another girl, the indomitable Rivka, teaches her how to survive, and she learns an unforgettable lesson: some must live, at whatever cost, to bear witness. When Rivka is "chosen," Hannah goes to her death in her place—and awakes to find herself returned to the family Seder, recognizing Aunt Eva as the beloved friend she saved. In less skillful hands, such a story would risk being either didactic or irreverent, but Yolen has so completely integrated her deep concern with the structure and movingly poetic language of her story that the meaning shines clear. Symbolic details—such as the role memory plays in Hannah's response to her experiences—are meticulously worked out. A triumphantly moving book.
Fans of Haddix’s Shadow Children books will want to jump on this time-travel adventure, which kicks off yet another series. The author grabs readers’ attention from the first scene, in which a planeload of unaccompanied babies lands out of nowhere at an airport. Time passes; two of those babies, Jonah, now 13, and his best friend, Chip, receive similar strange letters of warning. They set out with Jonah’s younger sister, Elizabeth, to find out what’s going on. Mixing in some rather esoteric physics, the narrative plunges the children into a time-travel trap from which there seems to be no escape. This outing merely introduces well-delineated characters and sets up their dilemma, ending with a teaser for the next book in the series. Somewhat slow in this installment, but intriguing enough nonetheless to keep kids reading what promises to be an exciting trip through history. (Fiction. 10-14)
A breathlessly paced adventure takes two modern kids back in time to England, 1763, where they must cope with such varied difficulties as 18th-century clothing and a host of implacable evildoers. When Peter and Kate, thrown together by chance, pop out of thin air in 1763 along with the anti-gravity machine that brought them there, they are lucky to do so in front of Gideon. Less luckily, the anti-gravity machine is immediately stolen by the Tar Man, king of London’s cutthroats, and Gideon’s erstwhile colleague. Readers may feel let down when they meet the title character, who, far from being the promised villain, has reformed his wicked ways and vows to help Peter and Kate get home. Buckley-Archer spins a rip-roaring tale replete with the raw details of life in the 18th century, including those of highwaymen, chamber pots and ghastly food like tripe. While the kids’ adjustment to their new time, if reluctant, is well-nigh miraculous in its ease, the story compensates with nonstop action, appealing secondary characters and healthy dollops of humor, all of which will have readers panting for the sequel. (Fiction. 10-14)
Her mother’s mysterious absence, a perplexing postcard and a unique family ability sends Mira on a race through time.
A trip to France with her father and brother in search of her mother becomes a fateful odyssey for Mira when she is abruptly transported to Paris circa 1881. Mira is shocked to find out she can travel through time, a talent she has inherited from her mother. She also discovers that her mother has travelled into the past on a quest for justice for Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish military officer wrongly accused of a crime, and needs Mira’s help. A series of letters from her mother guides Mira as she visits various moments in time between 1881 and 1899. Mira’s encounters with anti-Semitism during her investigation further compel her to seek out the truth. While striving to unravel the secrets surrounding Dreyfus’ trial, Mira becomes involved in the lives of several impressionist artists and, of course, writer Émile Zola. With vividly detailed descriptions, Moss deftly recounts Mira’s journey among the backdrop of historical events and people. Moss’ thought-provoking tale examines the devastating effects of prejudice and intolerance; in her author’s note, she gives more background on the Dreyfus Affair and Zola's “J’Accuse.”
A surprise ending will leave readers anticipating Mira’s next mission as she follows her mother through time and history.
Stosh is back in a new time-travel baseball adventure. This time, his vintage baseball cards carry him and his elderly friend Flip Valentini to 1942 to use a radar gun to determine if Satchel Paige really threw the wickedest, speediest fastball in baseball history. They meet up with Satch on the way to the Negro League World Series. As they travel, they enjoy Satch’s eccentricities and unique personality, as well as the camaraderie and competitive spirit among the enormously talented ballplayers. But they are also witness to the humiliation, pain and hopelessness of segregation. The trip also results in a life-changing alteration of Flip’s personal history. Stosh is a terrific narrator, a thoroughly modern kid who understands that the past has much to teach us. Gutman has again crafted a delightful mix of humor, magic and history surrounded by the sheer joy of baseball. (Fiction. 8-12)
“[T]he British Empire,” declares Mrs. Emily Mumby, ancient superhuman creator of the Solar System and Art and Myrtle’s mum, “stands on the brink of an invasion by highly intelligent hats from the future!” When the Mumbys travel to Starcross, a time-traveling seaside resort in the asteroid belt, they find themselves caught in a web of schemes most sinister: The proprietor of the resort, a hatter, has lured them there to take control of their minds with his evil Top-Notch Toppers in order to seize Mrs. Mumby’s technology. But the hats have hegemonic designs of their own. Meanwhile, Jack Havock, space-pirate-turned-British-spy (and the object of Myrtle’s affections), is on Starcross investigating a suspected French agent, who is determined to find and resurrect the wreckage of the fabled American privateer Liberty and use it to topple the British Empire. Toss in a handful of knitting goblins, a super-intelligent plant, “the Cockney Nightingale” and a healthy helping of quintessentially Victorian pomposity and pride in Empire, and the result is a romp that lives up to the standard set by Larklight (2006), its wildly imaginative predecessor. Huzzah! (Fiction. 10-14)
Eleven-year-old Vivian, kidnapped to far-distant future Time City by mistake, proves to be one of the City's saviors. Vivian Smith has gone to the West Country to escape the bombing of London at the beginning of WW II when she is unexpectedly met by imperious Jonathan Lee and whisked to Time City, which stands on its own piece of recycled time. Jonathan and his friend Sam explain that they had mistaken Vivian for the Time Lady, a mythical heroine or destroyer—their eavesdropping got muddled—who may be the cause of the deterioration of Time City. Convinced of their mistake, they pass Vivian off as cousin Vivian Lee. daughter of 20th-century Observers. The three bounce back and forth in time, trying to discover who is stealing the polarities, hidden by mysterious creator Faber John, that keep Time City whole. Aided by grouchy Tutor Wilander, android Elio, and a mysterious woman who saves Jonathan's life, they unmask Vivian Lee and her parents as the villians, reunite the pieces of Faber John and the pieces of the polarity, and save the city. As in earlier books such as Howl's Moving Castle, there is never a dull moment, with a new crisis or a new twist at every turn. While time-twisters never bear much scrutiny, Jones manages to resolve paradoxes and scattered clues without leaving the reader feeling cheated. Meanwhile, the book bounces merrily along, gathering momentum and generating dramatic tension. In all, a spirited, funny, and entertaining story.
Sam Faulkner’s mother is dead, his father’s been missing for two weeks, he’s being threatened by a bully at school and he’s just turned 14. Unhappy at his grandparents’ home, having little interest in school, he turns back to his old house, hoping for some clue to his father’s disappearance. What he finds is a way to travel through time. He hops from time period to time period, country to country, convinced he’s following in his father’s footsteps, but never finding him. Wrenched back into his own time, confiding his adventures only to his cousin Lily, he discovers that his body is beginning to change as well. Written in short, almost jerky vignettes, there is not a lot of depth to this story. That may well be in the future, however, because it is clearly just the beginning. This volume establishes characters and relationships without really fleshing them out. That must come with successive volumes, which are sure to follow. Lily has found evidence of where Sam’s father is—being held prisoner in Vlad Tepes’s (aka Dracula’s) castle. Finding how to get there, rescue his father and bring them both home safely is now the mission. A light read, with glimpses into other times and places, with the promise of better to come. (Fantasy. 10-14)
Uncomfortable with her body and braces, seventh-grader Louise Lambert spends her time sketching outfits and daydreaming about the day when she’ll be glamorous. In between school and swim practice, she scours vintage shops and secondhand stores and teaches herself about fashion; she looks for both clothes and a connection to the women who wore them. While her classmates want to fit in, Louise wants to stand out, and she might just get her wish. After trying on a dress at a mysterious traveling vintage sale, she finds herself in another girl’s (fashionable) shoes...on the Titanic. Typical time-traveling conflicts—sexism, clothing, class issues, altering the course of history—ensue. Though the dialogue is occasionally stiff, the relationships possess some depth. Debut author Turetsky portrays Louise as a girl caught between childhood fantasies—Louise’s closet is “the only place left where she still felt the nervous anticipation that extraordinary and magical things could happen”—and the reality of growing up. While it doesn’t cover any new territory, the novel's message of living life in the moment and accepting oneself provides some counterweight to the detailed fashion montage—presented throughout the book in delicate, color illustrations. Clothes, boys and adventure make for a quick series opener. (Fantasy. 11-15)