Charlotte Sometimes, The Ghosts, A String in the Harp, London Calling, The Time Garden, Moondial…all of these, and many more, are timeslip stories that I want to write about at some point. So I have decided that every Tuesday will be “Timeslip Tuesday” until I run out of books....
A timeslip story is simply one in which characters pass from one time to another, either forward or backward, generally without a mechanical device such as a time machine. I count ghost stories when the ghost characters are in fact characters traveling in time, and not just spooky special effects. If anyone reading this has a timeslip story they reviewed on their own blog, leave me a link, and I’ll make a list!
My first official Timeslip Tuesday Review is of a new book I just read for Mother Reader's 48 Hour Reading Challenge- Don’t Know Where, Don’t Know When, by Annette Laing (2007, Confusion Press, 206 pages, for Middle Grade readers). It was a perfect choice—brisk story telling, likeable characters, and a great plot.
Don’t Know Where, Don’t Know When throws three kids back in time from present day Snipesville, Georgia, into World War II England. Hannah, her brother Alex, and their friend Brandon are now war evacuees from London, struggling to figure out what is happening and why they have traveled through time. Then Brandon slips through time again to the England of World War I…and the mystery deepens. At its heart is the identity of George Braithwaite, the English child whose WW II identity card Brandon found in present day Georgia. Until George is found, there’s no going home.
I am very picky about books that talk about things I am knowledgeable about, in particular books that feature American kids coping with the alien life of the English, because I’ve been there and done that myself, and married as I am to someone from England, I am constantly confronted with Differences. And secondly, I am picky about books that involve time travel to periods that I know a lot about (even though in the case of WW I and II England, my knowledge comes from works of fiction). So I approached Don’t Know Where, Don’t Know When in my naturally suspicious way. Not far into it, my attitude had changed—I was now rooting for the author. “Please don’t mess up!” I thought, because Laing was doing such a good job making me believe in her characters and their experience that I didn’t want any jarring mistakes to throw me out of the story. And there weren’t any to speak of—hooray!
Here’s another point that makes this book worth recommending—one of the kids, Brandon is black, and as far as I know this is the only book for kids published in America that addresses what it was like to be a black kid in WW II and WW I England. (The other two kids, Hannah and Alex, have a Portuguese last name, Dias, that gets Anglicized to Day in WW II, making this book the only work of fiction for kids that addresses the Portuguese-American Child's Experience of WW II Evacuation :) ).
This is the first book The Snipesville Chronicles; volume two (featuring the same kids, but in a different time and place) is being written. If you are looking for a new series for a kid who loved the Magic Tree House Books three or four years ago, this might well be it.
Over at Becky's Book Reviews are a great interveiw with Annette Laing, and Becky's review of this book.