Today's book for Timeslip Tuesday is Fog Magic, by Julia L. Sauer (1943, 107 pages in its newest incarnation, ages 9-12). I was surprised when I saw how old this book is, because it does not feel dated in the least. It won a Newbery Honor in 1944 (Johnny Tremain was the winner that year).
Greta has always loved the fog that often envelopes her small village on the east coast of Canada, and has always felt that there was something drawing her out into it... One foggy day, when she is ten years old, she discovers why—down by the shore, she sees through the mist buildings standing where the old village had been abandoned years ago.
“So this,” she said to herself, “this is what can happen to you in a fog. I always knew that there must be something hidden.”
There in the foggy village, Greta finds friends, and becomes part of stories that were still being told in her own time. The story of lost Ann, alone and starving in the woods, the story of ships wrecked on the treacherous coast, a grief-crazed Captain’s wife, forcing the ship’s crew at gunpoint to bring her husband’s body home, and more. But she must always leave before the fog clears, and she can take nothing home with her through the mist, until it is time for her to say good-bye to her childhood, and to the past.
This is a gentle story—as is evident from the description, there isn’t much “plot” in the conflict, action packed, adventure sense of the word. But it is magical. Because there isn’t much in the way of “happenings” to serve as a distraction, the reader can simply enjoy going with Greta on her journeys back in time to a place that is at once strange and familiar.
This book serves as a timeslip for me personally, bringing back the memories of when I first read it. I was ten, like Greta, and loved cats (the new cover, unlike mine from the 1970s edition, doesn’t show the grey kitten—pity). We were living in the Bahamas, and a new bookstore had just opened, the first bookstore that I can ever remember going to on a regular basis. I loved both the bookstore and the book. Reading it again just now, all the mental pictures I had of the forested, foggy coast all came back, just as I had pictured them during the many times I re-read this as a child.
Julia Sauer doesn't seem to have written much, which is a pity--just Fog Magic and another book called The Light at Tern Rock, which I've never read, but which is briefly described here at Kaylee's Child Lit Blog. It was a Newbery Honor book in 1952. So only two books, but both of them stickered. Why weren't there more? What was Julia's story? Why has no-one written a wikipedia entry about her?