In Due Time: Going, Going, Gone
Nicholas O. Time
Simon & Schuster, 2016 145 pgs.
In Due Time series #1
Simon & Schuster introduces a new time-travel series for chapter book readers. Three friends, Matt, Luis, and Grace, discover a book courtesy of their school librarian that they cannot refuse: The Book of Memories. This special book appears to be an old and dusty library book, however when you write your name and a date on the old-fashioned check-out card, the borrower goes back to that date written. The catch is: you can only stay for three hours and then you must sign the current date or be stuck in the past forever. Other rules include: you can't change major events from the past, you are allowed to change one thing that will effect your family, and you cannot show or talk about anything from the present. The three friends chose to return to 1950's Brooklyn to help Matt's Grandpa Joe change the fatal event that kept him from entering major league baseball. The team enters a world of egg creams, poodle skirts, and strange slang, and no social media or cellphones. Matt realizes the highlight of his life as he not only interacts with his beloved Grandpa as a young man, but gets to see a legendary game played by the Brooklyn Dodgers. Our three heroes must prevent Grandpa Joe from his clandestine accident at any cost, although they realize that by preventing the event they also may be preventing Grandpa from meeting Grandma, thus eliminating the existence of Matt. Some fast thinking is in order and the gang does not have a lot of time to save the day and return to the present--or be stuck in 1950's Brooklyn forever.
I have always loved time travel books. They make my head hurt in a delicious way. This new series is no exception. It breaks down the rules of time travel in a simple and digestible way, provides a simple yet librarian-friendly travel conveyance, and makes time travel seem possible to a young audience. Perfect for fans of The Magic Tree House who are ready for the next step, this series is an ideal choice for readers ready to tackle chapter books without pictures. The plot is solid and linear, there are just enough characters to add interest, but not so many as to confuse, and the action never stops. There is a historical element to satisfy those who like to learn and humor to keep those who don't turning pages. Diversity both in race and gender of the characters allow the book to be welcoming to all. Of course I love that the "keeper of the book" and time travel guru is a kooky librarian along the lines of Miss Frizzle and that all of the interesting action happens from the library. So far, two installments have been released this year in the series and three more are on the way; all with great covers, zippy titles, and featuring different characters. The second series entry, Stay a Spell, travels to the 1970's and features a disco cover, which is not only an unusual period for time travel books for kids, but is of interest to me personally, having grown-up in the 1970's. Unfortunately, (or fortunately-whichever the case may be) my library's copy was already checked out. In Due Time a is fun and age appropriate introduction for young readers to the time travel genre.