Tuesday, May 02, 2023

Timeslip Tuesday- The Rhythm of Time

Questlove and Cosby, S.A. The Rhythm of Time 
April 18, 2023 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Rahim Reynolds lives in Philadelphia with his older sister, Yasmine, his father, who is a professor, and his mother, who gives music lessons. He's bullied mercilessly at school by Demarcus and his henchmen, Lavell and Tron. Luckily, his best friend is neighbor Kasia, who is homeschooled and heavily into technology. This is helpful because his father doesn't believe in all the newfangled garbage like cell phones. For his birthday, Kasia gives Rahim a phone that she has cobbled together and connected to a sketchy network so that he doesn't have to pay for it. Kasia has better skills than she imagines, and the two soon find out that Rahim's cell phone can teleport him around town. When it teleports him back in time, things get complicated quickly. Kasia's computer equipment is taken away by government forces, so she is having trouble getting Rahim back to the present. He's landed in his same neighborhood in 1997, and has met his father when he was young. Luckily, his future grandparents take him in, since he claims he can't go home, and they figure he has run away. He finds out that his father was always a bit geeky (wearing a tie when everyone else is wearing sagging jeans and oversized white t shirts), but loves music. The two plan to use the phone to attend a Four the Hard Way Concert, but this involves breaking his grandparents' rules. There are bigger issues at stake, and Kasia work is opening wormholes and vorteces, and releasing extinct animals all over the place, in both the present and the past. When she manages to get Rahim back to the present, they realize that he presence in the past has changed a lot-- his father is now a struggling rap artist who still writes lyrics like a twelve year old and hasn't been successful, and his artistic mother has a stressful job at a bank. The two find out some things about WWII technology and meet Dr. Evelyn Jackson, who worked with Project Philadelphia in 1943. She is the key to all of the problems that Kasia has released, but will she be able to help Kasia and Rahim undo all of the damage to time they have caused? A second book seems necessary. 
Strengths: There is a lot of science based theory surrounding the time travel that was intriguing; I'm convinced that time travel will eventually be possible through cell phones. (I may have once had a long conversation with a phone salesman about why the "Go To Date" feature on my phone didn't work; apparently, the unlimited time travel package is prohibitively expensive!) I love that Kasia is great with technology and that her parents support her in this, and also that she wanted to share it with Rahim. The time travel also hits a lot of essentials like the Butterfly Effect, and what middle grade student doesn't want to travel back in time to meet parents? Page's Rewind was one of my daughter's favorites. There is a lot of information about 1990s hip hop music that might appeal to younger readers who want a throwback; certainly, we are well past the stage where they want to travel back to meet the Beatles. Of course, now that is a book that I totally want! 
Weaknesses: A middle school library has Stephen King's 1987 700+ page long The Tommyknockers? A college professor doesn't understand that his son's school has a lot of work that has to be done on the computer and doesn't provide one for him? There were a lot of little things like this (and the atomic wedgie style bullying; in 25 years, I've never heard of this happening) that made me wonder if either of the authors had been in a middle school or talked to 12 year olds lately. Also, wouldn't Dr. Jackson be over 90 years old?
What I really think: This is a good choice for readers who liked Giles' The Last Last-Day-of-Summer and Henderson's The Magic in Changing Your Stars

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