On her 10th birthday, Aleca Zamm discovers she can stop time.
After some nasty bullying and a frame job by the class mean girl, a teacher’s pet, Aleca’s asked by the principal for her name. When she says it, time freezes; saying it again unfreezes time. What’s this newfound ability good for? Chaos! Aside from taking a peek at an upcoming math quiz (she has a bit of test anxiety), she has fun setting up a humiliating tableau for her tormenters and then restarting time. Her wish fulfillment continues as she experiments with her ability before her orange-haired great-aunt arrives—because of Aleca. Aleca, like Aunt Zephyr, is a Wonder: one who gains a power upon turning 10. It skips a generation in the Zamm family and has caused lots of misery to some (a mind reader was forced to become a hermit, and her grandfather could talk to animals, but they would never leave him alone). Zephyr can help. Wonders are immune to one another’s abilities, and Aunt Zephyr warns that someone could be looking for them….Aleca’s ability is likely to provoke both envy and thought on the part of readers, though some flourishes, such as her little dances while time’s stopped, feel arbitrary. Aleca’s white, and her best friend is a bilingual Spanish speaker, but most characters lack physical descriptions and racial or ethnic markers.
A fast, fun origin story with appealing wish fulfillment. (Fantasy. 7-10)