In Nawrocki’s debut middle-grade novel, three kids accidentally travel back in time and must warn a Japanese-Canadian family of what awaits them post–Pearl Harbor.
Maddy is a rambunctious 12-year-old redheaded girl who lives on tiny Cortes Island, off the coast of British Columbia, Canada. One summer night, she sneaks out of the house to go lagoon diving with her best friend, Cat, and Cat’s exceptionally smart, hard-of-hearing twin brother, nicknamed “Draggin” because the girls must drag him with them everywhere they go. By the light of the full moon, the trio is swept by the tide through the lagoon—and, by some form of magic, back to late December 1941. There, they meet a kind woman named Malila who tells them about a legend involving people suddenly appearing in the lagoon and delivering important messages. Malila is convinced that the kids have such a message for her, but none of them can figure out what it could be—and until they do, they won’t be able to travel back to their own era. However, they soon learn that a Japanese-Canadian family on the island, the Tagawas, may be in danger of being forced to move east to an internment camp as a result of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor a few weeks prior. Maddy, Cat, and Draggin must warn the family before the Canadian authorities—or other paranoid, prejudiced people—can get to them first. Nawrocki has created a magical story that still feels grounded in reality thanks to her three realistic main characters, their snarky, often hilarious banter, and some heartbreaking historical details. It also helps that the kids’ method of time travel is refreshingly simple, relying on mythology and magic as opposed to hard science. Maddy and company face their share of dangerous obstacles once they land in the past, but they remain spunky and spirited throughout, which helps keep the story from becoming too sad in its darker moments.
A short, sweet story that will educate readers about a dark time in history while also providing a healthy dose of sci-fi fun.