The Lost Track of Time
Lee White, Illustrator
Scholastic, 2015 306 pgs
Penelope considers herself a writer. The problem is, her mother has her so tightly scheduled that no time is left for dreaming or creating. Even her elderly neighbor and friend, who Penelope use to day dream with, has been blocked out of the schedule. One summer day a mysterious thing happens: there is a surprising gap in the schedule. Penelope runs over to visit her forbidden friend and while day dreaming manages to fall through the hole in the schedule to the Land of Possibilities. Here she make a new friend, a mushroom-loving and like-minded soul named Dill. Dill teaches Penelope all about "moodling", the act of day dreaming and letting your mind wander. He also shares the history of the strange land that Penelope now finds herself in and suggests they wander around looking for the Great Moodler, who is now in hiding since the controlling and evil Chronos has taken over. The two new friends have many fantastical and inconceivable adventures and meet many interesting characters, including a giant talking coo-coo bird, the ancient and decrepit Timekeeper, magical Fancies, hypnotized Clockworkers, and the Great Moodler and Chronos themselves. Penelope must rediscover her ability to Moodle in order to save her friend Dill from a life of drudgery and rescue the land from Chronos' evil and unimaginative clutches.
I probably would not have picked this book up on my own. I only read The Lost Track of Time because kids were raving about it. When asked for a book similar to this title, I mistakenly recommended time travel books. While dealing with the theme of time, it is not about time travel, but time wasting and the problem we have in our current society of over scheduling our children. More Wrinkle in Time than When You Reach Me, this book is similar in mood and structure to The Phantom Tollbooth. Penelope discovers that wasting time is not a bad thing , which leads to setting loose her imagination and creativity. The over-structuring mother is not evil, she certainly puts her daughter first, she is simply a product of our society. Other lessons Britt not so subtlety teaches the reader are that anything is possible, self-doubt is destructive, words can be powerful and fun, and worrying can be toxic. Dill shows the reader the powers of mushrooms, making the reader think that maybe they stepped into Alice in Wonderland. I would not have been surprised if a rabbit scampered across the path complaining about being late. The book is a bit "out there" for the common young reader. It is a story for smart kids with huge imaginations. Britt makes use of puns and word play to build on her themes, which will delight young intellectuals who will appreciate the references. The singular colored and dreamy illustrations add to the atmosphere of the story and help to make the book read faster. This book would work well as a read aloud and would be perfect for family sharing. The Lost Track of Time was a bit too intention driven for my taste and felt a bit old fashioned. That said, readers both young and old seem to love it and there is certainly an audience for both the message and the madcap bewitching adventure that lies within.