When I tossed Two Girls, a Clock, and a Crooked House by Michael Poore into my online cart, this summer, I probably did so because of two words: "time travel". I am a sucker for all things time travel and I have developed a passion for middle grade books, in recent years, as well. Good decision. I adored this tale of two girls, a time-traveling rocking chair, some missing children, and the woman everyone knows as the witch who ate the missing kids.
Amy's parents are scientists, so they know that the mining that's about to take place in their town will release dangerous chemicals. To try to prevent the mining from happening, they're camping out on a big red X, where the drilling is set to begin.
Amy has a friend she calls "Moo" because her friend always wears a hoodie with a cow face and ears on the hood. Moo can't move without help and she can't speak. But, Amy hopes someday she'll be able to. In the meantime, she's happy to just visit Moo, read her poems, chatter at her, and take her across the road to watch the wild cows in the pasture. "Mooo," is the only thing Moo can say, another reason for the nickname Amy has given her.
After Amy is hit by lightning on her way home from Moo's house, she develops the ability to see the spirit within people and trees and even rocks and water. She's also suddenly able to hear Moo's thoughts. When they go for a walk and get lost in the forest — the forest in which the child-eating witch is known to live — they find a crooked old house that's unoccupied. Amy and Moo can communicate nonverbally and they can also see time. So, they decide to travel through time by tying a bunch of old things to a rocking chair (the effect of the time each object has been around, added to each other object's time is cumulative — eh, just read the book for the explanation).
Back in the 1980s, they find out the true story of a missing boy named Oliver, the other two children who disappeared, and the witch. But, can they get back to their own time? And, what will happen with the huge machine called Duke and the big red X? Will Amy's parents get smushed by a giant digger?
Highly recommended - I could not put Two Girls, a Clock, and a Crooked House down and didn't get much sleep, last night. I imagine I'll return to it when I'm in the mood to for light-hearted time travel. As a child, I would have read it over and over and over again for the time travel, wit, magic, and sweetness. As an adult, I figure there's no sense kids should have all the fun. Of course, there's an environmental message but it's also a tale of family, kindness, and friendship.
Funny thing . . . I did not recognize the author's name but I loved this book so much that I looked up the author when I closed the book. He's only written three books but — surprise! — it turns out I've read one of the two grown-up novels he's written and I was every bit as unable to put it down as I was this one. I love his wacky sense of humor and wild imagination and I hope the author will write more books for children. This book is special, in my humble opinion.
Side note: I read the other book by Michael Poore, Reincarnation Blues, while on vacation in South Africa. And, even after getting up at 4AM to go "on safari" (if that's the right way to describe driving around a national park to see the wildlife), I couldn't put the damn book down at night. My memories of South Africa are inextricably tangled up with my memories of Reincarnation Blues because of that. And, that's not a bad thing, since I found the book so entertaining and the time change meant I couldn't sleep, anyway. I am definitely going to want to hunt down a copy of Michael Poore's third book.
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