The first in a new series by Hodgson (Sally Socket and the Fire Angel, 2013, etc.) takes young readers on a wild romp through time.
Twelve-year-old Jodie Broom has a library card that allows her to go anywhere in the past, but she can only stay there for one hour before the “spring back” feature returns her to the year 2075. She chooses to go to her favorite time ever, the 1980s, to see some of the greatest musicians play and record “Do They Know It’s Christmas?,” the famous Band Aid charity song. But before she hears one note, her library card malfunctions, dumping her back in 2075 on the desk of Ms. Noble, the cranky librarian. Despite that era’s amazing technology, it isn’t that great a place to live: no plants grow, food is made of “astro-foam.” Also, paper books are illegal, and when Jodie’s parents discover that she’s smuggled a collection of them from the past, they tell her to get rid of them. In a snit, Jodie and her best friend, Pacman, seek out Otso, a man who can fix their library cards so that they can stay in the past for as long as they want. In return, Otso has a mission for them—to retrieve a magic book from the tent of Attila the Hun—and he sends his nephew, Kai, along to help. Soon they’re hopping around in time, learning about the various events they visit, but when they try to return home, they find themselves at the “End of the World” instead—with no idea how to get back home. The book’s engaging setup provides an opportunity to teach young readers about diverse historical events, such as the Blitz in World War II and the sinking of the Titanic. However, the sheer number of facts and names can be overwhelming at times. Jodie is a realistic young heroine, whose love of books and learning is infectious, but sometimes her thoughts seem too mature for a tween (“Our lives need to be filled with treasured memories, as many as possible so when you get older you can relive the precious memories and keep them safe”). The conclusion is left open-ended for a sequel, but it’s unexpectedly distressing for such a generally lighthearted tale.
A sci-fi kids’ book that’s prone to overexplanation, but offers a unique premise and an engaging protagonist.