Two Girls, a Clock, and a Crooked House, by Michael Poore, for Timeslip Tuesday

Two Girls, a Clock, and a Crooked House, by Michael Poore (Random House, middle grade, September 2019) my time travel read for the week, was one that I enjoyed, while simultaneously giving it side-eye....

It starts with the main character, a girl named Amy, scientifically testing to see how easy it would be to steal a butterfly hoodie (it has antennae).  With the help of fake vomit, she finds it's very easy indeed.   She tells herself she'll return it tomorrow, but by the time tomorrow comes, the hoodie has been through much too much to be returnable. I have strong residual side-eye feelings about the store never getting paid for it, and her parents being more appreciative of her scientific mind than appalled by her theft....

But her parents aren't exactly focused on parenting, because they are camping out in a field with a big x on it, awaiting the arrival of the Big Duke, the largest mining machine in the world.  It is on its way to mine "hyperzantiummetachondrite (a green substance used to make tennis balls."  Amy's parents are scientists, who know the digging is going to poison the groundwater.  But since no one is paying attention to what they say, they are going to block the digger with their bodies....

Much side-eye from me (not about the ground-water, but about the tennis ball stuff).  I remember when I read this thinking "this book must have been written by someone who usually writes for grown-ups [I was right], who is trying too hard to be whimsical."  And writing this after reading the whole book, I am thinking "I bet the kids who'd enjoy this book would have liked it better if it had just been regular old mining."

So that's the first ten or so pages.

Amy, in her stolen butterfly hoodie, next goes off on a walk through the countryside to visit her friend, Moo.  Moo sits on the porch of her house, wearing a cow hoodie, watching the herd of wild cows (escapees from an overturned cattle truck years ago), and occasionally saying "moo." Though we are told she has intelligent brown eyes (which made mine roll), "moo" is the only word she can say, and she cannot move independently (if lead, she can follow), due to a brain injury inflicted by her father (who is now out of the picture).  Amy calls her Moo, never having asked the girl's mother her real name, but is otherwise a good friend, talking to her and bringing her interesting rocks.  So points for Amy.

Clearly this will take forever if I keep on like this.  I will try to be brisker.

Then Amy gets struck by lightning, which enables her to hear Moo's cogent, articulate thoughts, and thrilled by this chance for real friendship, she takes Moo for a walk into the woods, despite having been told by her parents to avoid the woods because of the witch living in them who kidnaps children (in whom Amy believes, because her parents are scientists and wouldn't try to frighten her with stories).  The girls find a house with a clock in it and Amy sees green streamers of time magic around it and they travel about thirty years back in time.  Moo is now able to move independently, thanks to Amy's residual lightning strike magic (or something).  But she still can't talk, except in Amy's mind.

There in the 1980s they meet the witch, who isn't a witch but is in fact a brilliant scientist, who helps them get home again.  Other things happen, some of them eliciting more eye rolls, but enough synopsis is enough.  And  then the two girls arrive back in time to confront the mining machine, and thwart it.

So lots of eye rolling at little things, and bigger things, like the magical alleviation of Moo's disability.  I can't speak for most young readers, but I myself don't like whimsical playfulness of this sort in disability representation, and I'm not entirely sure, thinking about it, if Moo's disability was intrinsically necessary for the plot, which then seems to be making me wonder if the time travel really was necessary for the plot, and what exactly this plot might have been.....though of course I know that it's "two brave girls who travel back in time, and become close friends thanks to magical communication, must find a way to travel forward in time again to stop some bad mining."

In any event, despite all this, I enjoyed reading the book. Amy and Moo's friendship and banter is very entertaining, and managed to make it all worthwhile.

Having written this, I go to Goodreads for the link and picture, and find myself side eyeing other reviews on Goodreads.  One says this book is "a mash-up of A Wrinkle in Time and the Wizard of Oz." It is not.  Just Not. Here's another mash-up from the official blurb-"Combine the thought-provoking time travel of When You Reach Me with the humorous storytelling of Lemony Snicket, and you get a wholly original journey through time, space, and the depths of the human heart."  I have many thoughts about this too.  For one thing, Lemony Snicket isn't a book, so ditch the italics.  For another, the time travel doesn't come close to the emotional tension of When You Reach Me, and is only mildly thought-provoking.

But do remember, I enjoyed reading this book, and did so in almost a single sitting.  And I chuckled more than once, and will remember one of those chuckles fondly for a long while....


  1. Hmm. That level of quirkiness does not do well with my students; not surprising that the author generally does adult books. Time Travel also doesn't do well with my students, sadly.

  2. Don't you get a headache with all that side=eye reading? Haha.Thanks for a fun review.

  3. Sounds like this book had some good and bad features, but I'm glad you enjoyed it overall, even if it did seem overly whimsical.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction


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