Once Was a Time
by Leila Sales
published by Chronicle Books
Here's the Goodreads summary:
In the war-ravaged England of 1940, Charlotte Bromley is sure of only one thing: Kitty McLaughlin is her best friend in the whole world. But when Charlotte's scientist father makes an astonishing discovery that the Germans will covet for themselves, Charlotte is faced with an impossible choice between danger and safety. Should she remain with her friend or journey to another time and place? Her split-second decision has huge consequences, and when she finds herself alone in the world, unsure of Kitty's fate, she knows that somehow, some way, she must find her way back to her friend. Written in the spirit of classic time-travel tales, this book is an imaginative and heartfelt tribute to the unbreakable ties of friendship.
This is what is missing from the Goodreads summary:
- it's a glorious infusion between historical fiction and modern fiction. I loved reading the parts at the beginning of the book that take place in England during World War II. Much of the setting and the events of that time quietly impact the events of the book. But then we're whisked away to the modern day, in midwest Wisconsin. And don't think I didn't miss some of the fantastic tongue-in-cheek jabs about the midwest - laugh out loud funny for this midwesterner!
- And the events that happen this time are so perfectly relevant to kids today - figuring out middle grade friendship circles. Sales mixes these two time periods together so well and I think it would be a great conversation between kids to see how things have changed using what happens to Charlotte between the two time periods. How was her friendship with Kitty different than her friendship with Dakota and Jake? There were some similar events that happened in both time periods but the outcome was different, why? I loved the bond of friendship between Charlotte and Kitty - the idea that friendship endures and how tight it can be. Beautiful.
- This is a book I devoured in a couple of sittings. I could not be stopped to get post-its and mark some of the lines, but I wish I had! There were many times that I stopped to ponder Sales words.
- Carefully added to the story line is the importance of books and libraries. I loved that Charlotte's family always brought a book to the table and this was absolutely acceptable. I loved that Charlotte's safe place was a library. I loved that there was mention of books Charlotte was currently reading or had read added to the story line.
- I can think back to my childhood and the first time traveling book I encountered was A Wrinkle in Time. That book captured my imagination. The idea of time travel seemed so far fetched and not something that could even be possible. Of course you start to think about where you would go, what you could see. I liked that the idea of time travel in this book stuck to scientific principles, which, although, something that seems more fantasy than realistic, kept the story line feeling real.
I am so excited to share this book with readers! I hope to hear many more readers fall into this book like I did!
Happy Book Birthday to Leila Sales and the Chronicle team! I'm excited that Once Was a Time is now available to all!