Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Wells Bequest

Time Slip Tuesday is an occasional feature at Charlotte's Library, and one that I love because it gives me an excuse to read more time travel books! Charlotte specializes in middle grade fantasies of all kinds; for an even more specific blog, visit Time Travel Times Two.

The Wells Bequest (The Grimm Legacy, #2)Shulman, Polly. The Wells Bequest.(The Grimm Legacy #2)
Leo feels that he is not as smart as his brother and sister, but he is mechanically inclined and creative. This leads his science teacher to suggest that he head to the New York Circulating Materials Repository to research TIME MACHINES! Since he had an odd dream/vision about meeting a small version of himself riding a time machine, he is not surprised when he sees the girl who was with him working there, Jaya Rao. He spends a lot of time at the Repository doing his research, and he’s thrilled to get to see H.G. Wells time machine, which sadly does not work. He and Jaya think there is another version of the machine that does work and head off to London to retrieve it in the wake of a nasty incident with another page at the repository, Simon, who has sabotaged another page’s attempts to work at the Burton repository in London so that Jaya gets the position instead. The two meet Simon in London, and he suspects what they are after, but they manage to locate what they need and head back to New York. Simon, whose ancestor worked for Nikola Tesla, claims that If he isn’t given access to a time machine he will destroy New York City, so Jaya and Leo head back to meet Tesla in 1895 and stop him. They manage to make it so that Simon doesn’t exist, but rectify this. Things work out AND Leo gets the girl.
Strengths: I WANT THIS JOB! Why don’t I work in the Repository. Drat! Oh. The book? It has time travel,  science fiction objects, a nice romance AND Mark Twain. It also has a nice evening walk in London to get fish and chips. Sigh. I am so glad that further books in this series are hinted at!
Weaknesses: This is not going to be a hugely popular book, but it will be well loved by a small portion of readers. And I adore it, so I am going to buy it!

Phillips, Gin. The Hidden Summer.
13 June 2013, Dial
ARC from Baker and Taylor

Nell and Lydia both have fairly dysfunctional mothers who fight over something silly and forbid the girls from hanging out together. In order to hang out together, they come up with an elaborate ruse-- they send letters to their homes stating that they have been accepted into summer camps, and then go off every day and spend their time at an abandoned miniature golf course (there's a great picture here), creating little living quarters inside the dinosaur. This goes fairly well, and they discover a homeless family living there as well. The girls arrange to spend a number of nights at the golf course as well, there is the requisite almost tragedy, and the girls come to conclusions about their own lives that lead them to try to improve their situations.
Strengths: Living at a miniature golf course is a brilliant setting, and it's done realistically. Their problems are real and important, but not overwhelming.
Weaknesses: Slow moving, which may be a function of this author's background in adult literature, and the sort of book that teachers like WAY more than students do. This is backed up by it's inclusion on the Junior Library Guild list and in this description from Goodreads.com: "Hidden Summer is a quietly beautiful coming of age story about self-discovery, family, and friendship. An elegantly written children’s book debut from an award-winning author in the vein of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and for fans of Moon Over Manifest."

Yeah, had a lot of twelve-year-olds ask for  A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (which I absolutely adore) lately. A perfectly lovely book, but I think it will be a hard sell in middle school. 


  1. Hi Mrs. Yingling!

    I'm curious why you think it's not going to be widely popular with your students. Because it's historical fiction? Too "high concept"? The title?


  2. Jeff-- As excited as I get about time travel, I get constant nose wrinkles from my students when I try to give them time travel books! There are a few students who like it, but not many. That's okay; every library needs a wide variety of books. The Wells Bequest will be on the shelves long after all the Dork Diaries have fallen to pieces!