Once Was a Time

324p. Chronicle. Mar. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781452140094.
Gr 4–6—"Most people don't believe in time travel," begins this work of fantasy/sci-fi set in 1940s wartime London. Ten-year-old Lottie and her best friend, the anagram-obsessed Kitty, certainly do. Lottie's dad is engaged in top-secret scientific research that may help win the war. Sales's story takes an abrupt detour as Lottie travels to suburban Wisconsin in the year 2013, without any clothes, without any clues, and, worst of all, without Kitty. With the help of a friendly librarian, some clueless but kind foster parents, and a geeky outcast artist, Lottie finds a new life, but she can't forget her dearest friend. She's determined to find her again, though time and space themselves stand in the way. Packed with literary allusions, meditations on friendship, and historical/geographical tidbits, this book is a bit of an unwieldy read, and its never-ending stream of coincidence, luck, and nice people can get a little wearing (has any Child Protective Services interview ever gone so well with so little paperwork?). The science is fluff, but the book shines in its portrayal of friendship, both the intense bond between Lottie and Kitty and the blossoming trust between Lottie and her new friend, Jake.
VERDICT This genre mash-up will appeal to fans of Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me (Random, 2009) and Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time.

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