978-0-14-032268-2 / 9780140322682

A Handful of Time (Puffin story books)


Publisher:Penguin Global



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About the book:

How miserable can a 12-year-old's summer vacation get? For starters, Patricia's domineering, emotionally distant mother sends her to her cousins' far-off cottage for the summer. Patricia has never met her cousins before, and her shyness and lack of cottage savvy only increase her awkwardness. Her cousins, led by the insufferable Kelly, tease her constantly before shunning her altogether. Then something amazing happens. During a hot and lonely afternoon, Patricia uncovers an old watch hidden beneath the floorboards. Upon winding it, she is stunned to find herself 35 summers in the past, eavesdropping on another 12-year-old--her own mother. Patricia and her watch become "ghosts from the future" in a mirror world where the inhabitants of the present are held up to their earlier selves, at once both familiar and strange.

The complexity of Patricia's adventure is spun through a series of events that seem almost matter-of-fact on the surface, while barely containing time's shimmering elasticity. The dialogue is beautifully nuanced, and the characters are described in small, telling phrases: Patricia's mother, Ruth, for instance, paddles the canoe "with a bored efficiency." A Handful of Time has the depth and sophistication of an adult novel yet always stays true to the fleeting world of childhood. Honoured as Book of the Year for Children by the Canadian Library Association, it is highly recommended. (Ages 10 to 14) --Martha Johnson

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