Sunday, December 8, 2013

Back to Blackbrick by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald

Image from
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2013

Cosmo is pretty sure this isn’t how his life is supposed to be. His mom has moved to Australia for a job and he hasn’t gotten over the death of his brother. He also refuses to believe that his massively brilliant Granddad is losing his memory, so he begins to take action using the advice from the Memory Cure website. But even though it helps sometimes, he can’t seem to get Granddad to remember that Cosmo’s brother Brian is dead. Things go from bad to worse when Granddad takes a fall and a social worker arrives to assess his ability to live at home. Cosmo is desperate to help and that’s when his grandfather gives him a small silver key. Although he’s completely skeptical, Cosmo keeps his promise to use the key to unlock the South Gate that leads to Blackbrick Abbey. And that’s when Cosmo realizes he’s traveled into his grandfather’s past. Not only that, he come face to face with his 16 year old Granddad! Maybe now he can fix everything in the past to make the future better. After all, Cosmo is a time traveler, no wait, he’s a massively brilliant Time Legend!

This story, part historical fiction and part science fiction, addresses the importance of memory, past, present, and future. The book begins in modern day Ireland, but soon readers are transported back to the early 1940’s. Cosmo’s grandfather was a stable boy at a once grand estate and he’s deeply in love with the gorgeous Maggie, a girl from a nearby village. Unfortunately, the lord of the manor also takes an interest in the 16 year old girl. Fitzgerald deftly addresses Maggie’s “condition” and the identity of the baby’s father as Cosmo and Kevin come to terms with this heartbreaking situation. Fitzgerald creates believable dialogue and motivations for the characters of the past, which contrasts with Cosmo’s 21st century sensibilities. Written in first person from Cosmo’s point of view, the story is equal parts action and reflection as Cosmo comes to terms with his grandfather’s failing memory. Ultimately, this is the story of his struggle to deal with his emotions about his grandfather’s memory, his mother’s absence, and his brother’s death. These are big issues, but Cosmo, sensitive and funny, keeps the book from becoming depressing. He admits he makes mistakes, but he’s always looking for a way to make things better and that proactive attitude keeps the story compelling and uplifting. In addition, the time travel element of the plot will keep readers wondering what happens to the characters (or if they will even exist in the future/present/whatever).

*If you could time travel to spend a year with a relative, who would it be and why?

One Came Home by Amy Timberlake

Age 10+ / Grade 5+


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