Mother forking space and time

The neighborhood that the four main characters of NBC's The Good Place resided in was rebooted over 800 times by the demon Michael. Every time one of the characters would figure out that they were actually in The Bad Place, Michael would wipe their memories and start over. I loved this show when it aired and now my eldest kid was recently watching it on Netflix, so between that and the fact that today is Groundhog Day (which will always be synonymous for me with the Bill Murray movie), it's got me thinking a lot about space and time. Luckily, over at Guide Reviews Database, we've got a subject listing for just that, so here's my curated list of recommended books about space and time for all age levels. If there are other titles on this topic that you've enjoyed, please share them with us in the comments. Enjoy reading about — as Doctor Who so perfectly described it — that "wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey...stuff"!




Barnett, Mac  Sam & Dave Dig a Hole

Gr. K-3 | 40 pp. | Candlewick | October, 2014 | Trade ISBN 978-0-7636-6229-5

Illustrated by Jon Klassen. Sam and Dave hope to dig up "something spectacular" but, alas, unearth nothing, repeatedly coming close to (but just missing) precious gems. When their dog, digging for a bone, ruptures the hole's dirt floor, the explorers fall "down, down, down," and land in what appears to be their own yard. Well-chosen words and plentiful white space support readers; cross-section illustrations add visual humor.


Goodale, E. B.  Also

Gr. K-3 | 32 pp. | HarperCollins/Clarion | February, 2022 | Trade ISBN 978-0-358-15394-8 | Ebook ISBN 978-0-358-63329-7

Goodale (Windows, rev. 11/17; Under the Lilacs, rev. 7/20) presents a gentle rumination on space and time, memory, and the enduring love of family. "Today, I am at my gramma's house, high on the hill, amongst the blueberry bushes," begins the adolescent narrator, her gaze open-heartedly trained on readers from a sun-dappled spread. "And also..." Now, with a page-turn, and in a muted purply palette, she's shown as a younger child: "...I am remembering camping with Mama," with a small adventure in the woods. The story continues, shifting to the grandmother: "Today, my gramma is at the kitchen, watching me from the window. And also... / ...she is remembering being a little girl in her mother's garden." The girl's mother's recollections (and those of the grandmother's cat) follow, before returning to the narrator. Now, as an adult, she's writing this very book while recalling — and re-illustrating, with subtle differences — her time at her grandmother's. The book concludes: "We are all here...and also there. / Always." It's a heady observation made somewhat more concrete and accessible by ­Goodale's finely attuned sense of childlike wonder and the illustrations' (made from monoprint, gouache, and blueberry ink) thoughtful compositions. A red bird on every spread helps situate viewers in place and time, past and present.


Macaulay, David  Black and White

Gr. K-3 | 32 pp. | Houghton | April, 1990 | Trade ISBN 0-395-52151-3

A picture book that toys with the reader as it experiments with the concept of time, simultaneity of events, and the question of one story impinging on another. A free-wheeling and free-spirited escape from the ordinary.


Mahy, Margaret  Bubble Trouble

Gr. PS | 32 pp. | Clarion | April, 2009 | Trade ISBN 978-0-547-07421-4

Illustrated by Polly Dunbar. When Mabel blows a bubble, it causes trouble in an inimitable Mahy way, surrounding Baby and taking him on an amazing adventure. The text's tongue-stumbling internal rhymes will keep storytellers on their toes, while Dunbar's cut-paper and watercolor illustrations faithfully depict every detail. As suspense builds in both words and pictures, little ones' eyes will be as round as the bubble.


Nordling, Lee  BirdCatDog: A Graphic Novel

Gr. K-3 | 32 pp. | Lerner/Graphic Universe | November, 2014 | Library ISBN 978-1-4677-4522-2 | Paper ISBN 978-1-4677-4523-9 | Ebook ISBN 978-1-4677-4524-6

Three Story Books series. Illustrated by Meritzell Bosch. In this innovative and accessible wordless picture book, three pets escape the ennui of domestication for brief, interconnected adventures in the wild. Read across the cartoon panels for the protagonists' parallel plot lines — the bird in the top row; the tabby in the middle row; and the guard dog in the bottom row — or read from top to bottom to "get the whole story."


Patricelli, Leslie  Higher! Higher!

Gr. PS | 32 pp. | Candlewicm | March, 2009 | Trade ISBN 978-0-7636-3241-0

A smiling dad pushes a little girl on a swing; with each push, she says, "Higher! Higher!" Higher she goes, flying up to greet a giraffe, a mountain climber, airplane passengers, etc. Finally, she heads into space, where she meets a little green alien at the apex of his own flying swing. Hand-lettering and cheerful cartoonlike acrylics reinforce the book's preschooler-perfect sensibilities.


Pilkey, Dav  Captain Underpants and the Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People

Gr. 1-3 | 175 pp. | Scholastic/Blue Sky | September, 2006 | Trade ISBN 0-439-37613-0 | Library ISBN 0-439-90381-5 | Paper ISBN 0-439-37614-9

Harold and George teleport in a purple portable potty/time machine to an alternate universe where they encounter evil versions of themselves and Captain Underpants. Trouble ensues when all five return to their original universe, but with the help of Boxer Boy and Great Granny Girdle (Harold's grandfather and George's grandmother), the day is saved. Both the imaginative writing and comic-book-style illustrations are loaded with humor.


Robinson, Christian  Another

Gr. K-3 | 56 pp. | Atheneum | March, 2019 | Trade ISBN 978-1-5344-2167-79 | Ebook ISBN 978-1-5344-2168-4

Robinson offers a smart, sly, and imaginative wordless story about a girl and her cat embarking on a fantastical adventure. The girl follows the cat through a portal into another dimension — and another and another, each time prompting readers to turn the book. After encountering her own double, the girl (plus cat) finally makes it back home. A subtle visual punch line at book's end will reward careful viewers.


Santat, Dan  Are We There Yet?

Gr. K-3 | 40 pp. | Little | April, 2016 | Trade ISBN 978-0-316-19999-5

Using panels, text bubbles, and vibrant splashes of color in his mixed-media illustrations, Santat sets a family on the road to Grandma's birthday party. But this isn't any old road-trip story. Illustrations guide readers to turn the book upside-down, and the settings grow increasingly outlandish. While the text occasionally veers toward adult-centeredness, the visuals are so inventive that young readers won't mind.


Wiesner, David  Sector 7

Gr. K-3 | 48 pp. | Clarion | September, 1999 | Trade ISBN 0-395-74656-6

At the top of the Empire State Building, a friendly cloud appears to a boy and takes him on a tour of Sector 7, a factory-like satellite where clouds are shaped. The boy draws fantastic shapes of sea life, which confound the regular staff members but inspire the clouds. The illustrations for the wordless story are startlingly and powerfully conceived, the fanciful cloud-shapes both funny and elegant.


Middle Grade


Cirrone, Dorian  The First Last Day

Gr. 4-6 | 232 pp. | Simon/Aladdin | June, 2016 | Trade ISBN 978-1-4814-5813-9 | Ebook ISBN 978-1-4814-5815-3

Haleigh doesn't want summer to end. When she finds paints with directions to "paint your heart's desire," she illustrates her perfect last day and wishes for a do-over. Groundhog Day meets Tuck Everlasting as Haleigh wakes to the same day and tries to change the inevitable, soon understanding some things shouldn't last forever. Engaging and surprising, the novel tackles hard questions about mortality, time, and friendship.


Cockcroft, Jason  Counter Clockwise

Gr. 4-6 | 202 pp. | HarperCollins/Tegen | February, 2009 | Trade ISBN 978-0-06-125554-0 | Library ISBN 978-0-06-125555-7

Trying to avert his wife's death, Nathan's father, Henry, sets Time to an endless repeat of the day she died. To get Time to move forward again, Nathan tries to stop Henry from changing the past. Cockcroft's fable muses on the nature of time and grief. Despite the sober subject, his world is lightly comic while also mingling the cerebral and the emotional.


Edge, Christopher  The Many Worlds of Albie Bright

Gr. 4-6 | 168 pp. | Delacorte | May, 2017 | Trade ISBN 978-1-5247-1357-7 | Library ISBN 978-1-5247-1359-1 | Ebook ISBN 978-1-5247-1358-4

Albie Bright, the son of two astrophysicists, knows a thing or two about quantum physics. When his mother dies of cancer, Albie builds a device that allows him to visit alternate universes to find her. Albie's search for his mother remains grounded in his grief in a moving and appealing story framed with compelling science.


Emerson, Kevin  The Shores Beyond Time

Gr. 4-6 | 504 pp. | HarperCollins/Walden | February, 2019 | Trade ISBN 978-0-06-230677-7

Chronicle of the Dark Star series. In this trilogy-closer, teens Liam and Phoebe (an alien Telphon) discover the force behind the destruction of their planets: an artificial intelligence called the Dark Star. By way of apology, the Dark Star creates an alternate universe with a new Earth for human refugees to inhabit and expands Liam's time-traveling abilities—but can she be trusted? Interest never lags as deceptions are unwound, temptations resisted, and humanity saved.


Evans, Lissa  Wed Wabbit

Gr. 4-6 | 248 pp. | Scholastic/Fickling | February, 2018 | Trade ISBN 978-1-338-18527-0 | Ebook ISBN 978-1-338-18528-7

Ten-year-old Fidge, feeling responsible for her little sister Minnie's serious injury, is sucked into Wimbley Land, the embodiment of Minnie's imaginative life (based on her favorite book and peopled with stuffed toys). Sensible, energetic, resilient Fidge must locate Wed Wabbit, Wimbley Land's new dictator (really Minnie's toy rabbit), and return him to Minnie. This laugh-out-loud, inventive tale wears its messages lightly and keeps its satire and slapstick bouncy.


Gaiman, Neil  Fortunately, the Milk

Gr. 4-6 | 113 pp. | HarperCollins/Harper | September, 2013 | Trade ISBN 978-0-06-222407-1

Illustrated by Skottie Young. A father goes out for milk for his children's cereal. He's abducted by aliens, escapes from pirates, and saves the universe from destruction. Dad arrives safely home and tells his story to his children, who don't believe him. This is high Brit silliness in the Douglas Adams tradition. Appropriately zany pen-and-ink drawings illustrate this shaggy-dog tale.


Giles, Lamar  The Last Last-Day-of-Summer

Gr. 4-6 | 293 pp. | Houghton/Versify | April, 2019 | Trade ISBN 978-1-328-46083-7 | Ebook ISBN 978-0-358-04916-6

Illustrated by Dapo Adeola. Like many kids, African American cousins Otto and Sheed Alston want just one more day of summer vacation. They get their wish when they accidentally freeze time and find their town visited by denizens from the "interdimensional community." Giles presents a page-turning magical fantasy adventure with broad appeal in which his protagonists use their considerable talents to save not only their town but also themselves.


Grine, Chris  Time Shifters

Gr. 4-6 | 266 pp. | Scholastic/Graphix | May, 2017 | Trade ISBN 978-0-545-92659-1 | Paper ISBN 978-0-545-92657-7 | Ebook ISBN 978-0-545-92660-7

This graphic novel opens with brothers Luke and Kyle encountering dangerous bullies in the woods. Months after Kyle's death, in the same woods, Luke gets sucked into a parallel universe, where a robotic Abe Lincoln, a ghost, a dinosaur, and a scientist are being pursued for a powerful device. The madcap sci-fi adventure rolls out cinematically in action- and emotion-packed color panels.


Harrold, A. F.  The Afterwards

Gr. 4-6 | 201 pp. | Bloomsbury | March, 2019 | Trade ISBN 978-1-5476-0044-1 | Ebook ISBN 978-1-5476-0048-9

Illustrated by Emily Gravett. Ember's wicked uncle leads her into a world where the dead dwell, but Ember sees this treachery as an opportunity to bring back her deceased best friend Ness. Harrold's spare text invites slow, considered reading, with occasional passages resembling poetry. Gravett's illustrations effectively use color within the shadowy and otherwise black-and-white afterworld. The author/illustrator pair invent imaginatively creepy magic to explore the difficulty, and necessity, of accepting loss.


Hautman, Pete  Otherwood

Gr. 4-6 | 309 pp. | Candlewick | September, 2018 | Trade ISBN 978-0-7636-9071-7

A generations-old secret related to their great-grandfathers splits nine-year-old "soul mates" Stuey and Elly into alternate realities. From here Hautman unfolds a dark tale involving families falling apart, woodlands being destroyed, and suspicion landing on innocent parties, but it's also a tender story of the friends' continuing connection. This is an intricately woven, affecting novel about the power of friendship, the corrosiveness of secrets, and the mysterious possibilities of the world.


Keller, Tae  Mihi Ever After

Gr. 4-6 | 240 pp. | Holt | November, 2022 | Trade ISBN 978-1-250-81431-9 | Ebook ISBN 978-1-250-81432-6

Illustrated by Geraldine Rodríguez. Fourth grader Mihi Whan Park, who loves fairy tales and princesses, wants nothing more than to fit in at school, a place where microaggressions abound. A botched game of Snow White results in Mihi's being sent indoors to the library for recess, where she meets two other misfits, Reese and Savannah. Though the three girls are vastly different—Reese is curious and inventive, Savannah is quiet and cautious, and Mihi is headstrong and bold—they share a love of princess stories and adventure. These qualities and their common interests come in handy when they discover a magical portal in the school librarian's fridge that takes them to the Rainbow Forest, where they find themselves in training to become royalty. But it turns out that learning how to be a princess isn't as easy or as much fun as Mihi expects. The Rainbow Forest is full of mystery and danger and is home to several classic Western fairy-tale characters, including Sleeping Beauty and Goldilocks's three bears. In a tale of kinship and self-discovery, Keller conveys the isolation one feels when faced with racism and stereotypes without steering readers away from the primary story line. In her quest for belonging and creating her own perfect fairy tale, Mihi finds that genuine friendship is what she needed all along.


L'Engle, Madeleine  A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel

Gr. 4-6 | 392 pp. | Farrar/Ferguson | October, 2012 | Trade ISBN 978-0-374-38615-3

Adapted by Hope Larson. In her note-perfect graphic-novel adaptation, Larson's affection for the Murry family's first adventure is clear. She skillfully pins down the sensation of traveling through space by tessering, the changing faces of Mrs. Whatsit, and the dedicated care of Aunt Beast. This version is given enough space, panel by panel, to mark every vital plot twist and character realization.


Mass, Wendy  11 Birthdays

Gr. 4-6 | 268 pp. | Scholastic | January, 2009 | Trade ISBN 978-0-545-05239-9

Amanda and Leo have the same birthday and always celebrate it together. After a fight the previous year, they throw separate eleventh-birthday parties — then find themselves forced to repeat the day over and over until they can reconcile. It's Groundhog Day for kids, and lots of fun due to deft pacing and sharp characterizations.


Oshiro, Mark  The Insiders

Gr. 4-6 | 384 pp. | HarperCollins/Harper | September, 2021 | Trade ISBN 978-0-06-300810-6 | Ebook ISBN 978-0-06-300812-0

Héctor Muñoz's life is upended when his family relocates from San Francisco to the ­Sacramento suburbs. He enters his new middle school with high hopes of finding his people in the drama club, only to realize that his new school is nothing like his old one, which was more diverse and accepting. Accustomed to bold fashion choices and having a larger-than-life presence, Héctor quickly finds himself at the "Table of Misfits" in the cafeteria. After he is bullied for being openly gay and Mexican American, Héctor discovers an unexpected escape in the form of a janitor's closet. The room turns out to be a magical portal to respite when it's needed—and also a means of support, as the portal transports students in similar situations from other schools to the same room. Oshiro brings readers close to the protagonist—and to common middle-school ­experiences—through a running narration of Héctor's internal dialogue. The story is infused with thoughtful references to Mexican American life in California, from Héctor's learning how to make tamales from his abuela to chilled glasses of horchata providing just what the doctor ordered while he hides from his tormentor. The story's plot is fantastical, but the lessons imparted about standing up for yourself and asking for help will resonate with anyone who has experienced bullying. An appreciation of intersectional identity and a story of resilience.


Ramée, Lisa Moore  MapMaker

Gr. 4-6 | 320 pp. | HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray | September, 2022 | Trade ISBN 978-0-06303-942-1 | Ebook ISBN 978-0-06-303944-5

Walt and his family relocate to the boring town of Blackbird Bay the summer before seventh grade. His friends are back in L.A., and his twin sister, Van, spends most of her time at the skate park. To make matters worse, his father is forcing him to play football even though all he wants to do is make maps. Walt spends hours analyzing maps of locations near and far, and he treasures his time with his map of Djaruba, a fantasy world he's been creating for years. One day, after a morning of sulking, Walt learns that his special interest is not just a hobby: he can make maps come to life. But the excitement over his newfound ability is short-lived because another mapmaker is destroying worlds, and the former residents of those worlds believe that all mapmakers, including Walt, must be stopped. With the help of Van and his new friend Dylan, Walt has to learn to harness his powers and thwart the malevolent mapmaker before all worlds, including Earth, are destroyed. This is an exciting adventure full of friendship and heart with a likable nerdy-Black-kid protagonist. Although the magic system could use more description, readers will enjoy the well-drawn characters as well as the fantastical landscapes and imaginative creatures in Walt's magical world.


Reinhardt, Dana  Odessa Again

Gr. 4-6 | 199 pp. | Random/Lamb | May, 2013 | Trade ISBN 978-0-385-73956-6 | Library ISBN 978-0-385-90793-4

Illustrated by Susan Reagan. When Odessa, nine, and her brother have yet another fight, their mother sends her to her room, where she stamps her feet in anger — and finds herself sent back in time, exactly twenty-four hours earlier. Despite the (sometimes uneven) fantasy element, the story is more a domestic tale of divorce, friendship, and family; kids will ponder what they'd re-do in their own lives.


Rowling, J. K. , Tiffany, John & Thorne, Jack  Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two

Gr. 4-6 | 328 pp. | Scholastic/Levine | July, 2016 | Trade ISBN 978-1-338-09913-3

Play by Jack Thorne. This "Special Rehearsal Edition Script" of the 2016 London play includes stage directions and original cast list. Harry's adolescent son Albus and best friend Scorpius Malfoy embark on a mission (using an illegal Time-Turner) to right wrongs in Harry's past. The play is most successful with its characters, indulging the audience's desire to revisit old friends while introducing a new generation of wizards.


Rowling, J. K.  Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Gr. 4-6 | 435 pp. | Scholastic/Levine | September, 1999 | Trade ISBN 0-439-13635-0

Illustrated by Mary Grandpre. In this third installment in Harry's saga, all the elements that make the formula work are heightened. The characters are particularly interesting, including Harry himself, who in facing the reality of his parents' violent deaths becomes a stronger person and a more complex hero. The Quidditch action is the best yet, the Hogwarts classes are inventive and entertaining, and there's a nifty bit of time manipulation in the exciting climax.


Salerni, Dianne K.  Jadie in Five Dimensions

Gr. 4-6 | 288 pp. | Holiday | September, 2021 | Trade ISBN 978-0-8234-4909-5 | Ebook ISBN 978-0-8234-5024-4

Jadie Martin isn't your typical thirteen-year-old. In her spare time she hops out of three-dimensional space and reenters elsewhere to make tiny but ­consequential "course corrections" to the fate of humankind as ordered by the Seers, ­­super-intelligent beings from a higher dimension. One day she comes across some startling information about the family who (supposedly) abandoned her as an infant before she was rescued by her adoptive parents. Jadie learns that, rather than rejecting her, her birth family loves her very much, but the Seers seem focused on orchestrating a string of bad luck for them far beyond what chance would dictate. Could the Seers have misled everyone about their true intentions? Inspired by Flatland, the 1884 novella by Edwin Abbott Abbott, which imagined two-dimensional beings encountering a three-dimensional shape, Salerni threads a healthy dose of theoretical physics through the plot line, which should please young sci-fi fans. Well-earned reversals in the developing action will keep less mathematically minded readers engaged, while refreshingly un-clichéd characterization steers the narrative clear of tired tropes. While many middle-grade novels ask "What if...?" Jadie's adventures give the question real teeth.


Selznick, Brian  Kaleidoscope

Gr. 4-6 | 208 pp. | Scholastic | September, 2021 | Trade ISBN 978-1-338-77724-6 | Ebook ISBN 978-1-338-77725-3

Through an attention-grabbing text and distinctive graphite illustrations, Selznick (The Invention of Hugo Cabret, rev. 3/07; The Marvels, rev. 9/15) presents an enigmatic yet engrossing work. In three sections (Morning, Afternoon, and Evening), but adhering to no formal plot line, Selznick weaves together recurring concepts, themes, and imagery across space and time, with a character named James—himself ever-changing—being the most reliable constant. An apple serves as a gift from a young boy to an invisible giant; later, the fruit begins a seventy-five-thousand-page entry in a widower's reference book. Other motifs—books, spiders, angels, ancient Egypt, shipwrecks, changelings, mythology, keys—appear intermittently. Each brief chapter is prefaced by an arresting double-page abstraction that resembles the view through a kaleidoscope, followed by a representational image—literally drawing the reader into the next story. Selznick's text is deeply sensory, tactile, and intimate, with a notable emphasis placed on the importance of human contact ("I wanted to hold those notebooks again because it would be like holding him again"). The appended author's note explains that the work was largely written during pandemic isolation. A sense of closure is implied through the book's three-part structure; however, meaning and interpretation are (perhaps frustratingly for some) left to the individual reader, and likely to evolve upon re-reading.


Stead, Rebecca  When You Reach Me

Gr. 4-6 | 200 pp. | Random/Lamb | July, 2009 | Trade ISBN 978-0-385-73742-5 | Library ISBN 978-0-385-90664-7

Sixth grader Miranda's life is an ordinary round of family and school. But when she starts receiving anonymous notes that seem to foretell the future, it's clear that all is not as it seems. The story's revelations are startling and satisfying but quietly made. Their reverberations give plenty of impetus for readers to go back and catch what was missed.


Teague, Mark  The Doom Machine

Gr. 4-6 | 343 pp. | Scholastic/Blue Sky | October, 2009 | Trade ISBN 978-0-545-15142-9

Teague puts a campy spin on intergalactic war. In 1956, skreeps (spiderlike aliens) kidnap Bud Creedle, inventor of a "dimensional field destabilizer" that cuts through the space-time continuum. The burden of saving Earth falls to juvenile delinquent Jack and budding scientist Isadora; the story's action is fast and furious. Teague's visual writing and numerous black-and-white illustrations help readers picture the alien assortment.


Thomas, Kiah  The Callers

Gr. 4-6 | 232 pp. | Chronicle | April, 2022 | Trade ISBN 978-1-7972-1078-0

The Octavius family is notable for producing Callers—people with the ability to summon objects seemingly out of thin air. Quintus Octavius, however, has never been successful at Calling anything. This does not sit well with his mother, Elipsom's Chief Councilor, and she makes sure he passes his Calling exam by enlisting his sister to Call for him. Cheating doesn't help Quin's already low confidence, but it's at this point that he accidentally transports himself across their world to Evantra, where he will grow to understand the truth about Callers, Elipsom's history, and his mother's complicity in depleting Evantra's resources for Elipsom's gain. Set in an evocatively realized fantasy world with, in Elipsom's case, a futuristic feel, this is a moving and complex story about the discomfort and reward of doing what is right. Thomas's debut middle-grade novel is a clever critique of the ­consumerism that we might take for granted. She tackles serious topics with wit, charm, and a few flying rhinodrites along the way.


Trevayne, Emma  Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times

Gr. 4-6 | 306 pp. | Simon | May, 2014 | Trade ISBN 978-1-4424-9877-8 | Ebook ISBN 978-1-4424-9880-8

Illustrated by Glenn Thomas. In Victorian London, Jack enters a door beneath Big Ben and finds himself in an alternate city, populated by people and creatures who are at least partly mechanical. Jack has been lured there intentionally: the Lady of Londinium needs a new "son" (think the fairy queen in "Tam Lin"). The power of loyalty and friendship drives the story to a rousing conclusion.


Ullman, B. B.  Bad Order: A Little-Known Tale of Regular Kids and Holographic Aliens Facing an Interdimensional Catastrophe

Gr. 4-6 | 214 pp. | Sterling | June, 2019 | Trade ISBN 978-1-4549-3106-5

Originally sent to Earth to observe and gather data, a trio of extraterrestrial smart-mass-holograph-research-units (SMHRs) discovers an interdimensional tear that allows negative energy into our world. Overstepping their mission, the SMHRs recruit four youngsters to save Earth. Humor, particularly surrounding the SMHRs' appearance, breaks the tension, while short chapters with exciting cliffhangers propel the plot at a quick pace.


Young Adult


Brody, Jessica  A Week of Mondays

454 pp. | Farrar | August, 2016 | Trade ISBN 978-0-374-38270-4 | Ebook ISBN 978-0-374-38272-8

After sixteen-year-old Ellison suffers a comically unfortunate Monday, she's granted a chance to do it over again. And again. She's convinced that preventing her musician boyfriend from breaking it off will stop the cycle; she tweaks her choices and, ultimately, her persona to little avail. It's a familiar premise, but Ellie's strong, humorous voice lends considerable charm to this compulsively readable romantic comedy.


Cashore, Kristin  Jane, Unlimited

454 pp. | Penguin/Dawson | September, 2017 | Trade ISBN 978-0-8037-4149-2

An old acquaintance invites orphaned Jane to her family's exotic island mansion. What's going on? Jane wonders, watching the household prepare for a gala and noting the priceless art. The story then splits into five alternate scenarios; in parallel narratives, Jane moves between multiverses of surreality, sci-fi, and art theft. Clues to the story's fantastical nature are playful and sly, and Cashore's inventiveness is unflagging.


Gray, Claudia  A Thousand Pieces of You

360 pp. | HarperTeen | November, 2014 | Trade ISBN 978-0-06-227896-8

When Marguerite's physicist father is murdered, she must use her parents' invention, the Firebird, to chase Paul, his ex-protégé and killer, through parallel dimensions. When she meets other versions of Paul, however, she begins to question his guilt. Excellently paced and filled with satisfying twists, this sci-fi thriller distinguishes itself with a thoughtful examination of loss, love, and moral ambiguity.


Hillyer, Lexa  Proof of Forever

345 pp. | HarperTeen | June, 2015 | Trade ISBN 978-0-06-233037-6

Four estranged friends are transported back in time when they enter a photo booth at their summer-camp reunion, forcing each girl to reconcile who she used to be with who she became. Hillyer covers a vast array of life events — from first love to coming out to the death of a friend — and her protagonists are skillfully drawn.


Jones, Diana Wynne  The Homeward Bounders

265 pp. | Greenwillow | May, 2002 | Trade ISBN 0-06-029886-3 | Reissue, 1981

Jamie describes his discovery of mysterious hooded figures playing a game. After being told he is "now a discard," Jamie is catapulted out of his world and compelled to wander through a series of other worlds. In this welcome reissue, the author combines elements of science fiction, folklore, and mythology to create a fantasy with overtones of allegory.


King, A.S.  Switch

240 pp. | Dutton | May, 2021 | Trade ISBN 978-0-525-55551-3

"It is, and has been, June 23, 2020, for nine months now." Global time has inexplicably paused. The U.S. government has created a new school curriculum called "Solution Time" that instructs students "to solve the world's time problem...figure it out / be sufficiently distracted." Sixteen-year-old Truda believes "the universe noticed we're falling apart and we need to learn how to rest," but she's having a hard time crafting a thesis that proves it, because her concentration is shot by confusing dramas at home: her mother's departure; her brooding older brother's odd hours; her sadistic, banished sister's lies. And Truda's father is building a maze of plywood boxes around a mysterious switch in their house. But the most unsettling development is Truda's bizarre new ability to stop time within stopped time. She becomes convinced that the switch in her house is the key and works to dismantle the boxes to discover the truth. Through an intentionally oblique text with occasional refrains ("to understand anything is to understand energy") and ideas coexisting within sentences, sometimes separated by slashes, King (Printz winner for Dig., rev. 3/19) explores the meaning of time and the toxicity of family secrets. This inventive, surreal novel's dedication, "For the class of 2020," makes a direct address to real-life teens' "lost" COVID-19 year.


Lawson, Shandy  The Loop

201 pp. | Hyperion | April, 2013 | Trade ISBN 978-1-4231-6089-2

Stuck in a time loop, New Orleans teen couple Ben and Maggie relive meeting each other and their violent deaths over and over. Each time they remember just a little more and try to outmaneuver their fates. Though the mechanics of the time loop are unclear, the fast pace and action-movie qualities make for a quick and appealing read.


Little Badger, Darcie  A Snake Falls to Earth

352 pp. | Levine Querido | October, 2021 | Trade ISBN 978-1-64614-092-3 | Ebook ISBN 978-1-64614-114-2

This original and suspenseful fantasy explores perceptions and understandings of space, time, identity, environmentalism, communication, and "the rightness of home." Nina, a human, is determined to translate a haunting Spanish and Lipan Apache oral story passed down by her late great-great-grandmother. Oli, a cottonmouth snake and animal person from the "world of spirits of monsters," will do anything to save his toad friend Ami, who has become ill because his Earth equivalent species is near extinction. Nina's and Oli's worlds are connected; a portal between them has something to do with a "pseudosun" in Oli's Reflecting World and temperature and magnetic anomalies on Nina's family land. The two characters eventually unite and together deal with a trickster mockingbird; an untrustworthy internet influencer; severe weather; and the threat of violent, cultish followers of a power-hungry "King" (a.k.a. "the Nightmare") who aims to be the only immortal left on Earth. They also use magic and learn why Nina's grandmother's health mysteriously declines whenever she leaves the family's land. Chapters alternate in voice and perspective, with the characters' worlds skillfully delineated and stories masterfully woven together. Modern dialogue, which offers further depth to characterization, intermingles with elements of traditional storytelling and family history, creating an imaginative and multilayered work of speculative fiction.


Mlynowski, Sarah  Gimme a Call

303 pp. | Delacorte | April, 2010 | Trade ISBN 978-0-385-73588-9 | Library ISBN 978-0-385-90574-9

After dropping her cell phone in a fountain, high school senior Devi is magically able to call her freshman-year self. Older Devi instructs younger Devi on her every move, hoping she can change the present concerning boys, friends, and school. Altering the past has major consequences and doesn't guarantee happiness for either Devi. Though occasionally confusing, this modern twist on a wishing well has broad appeal.


Oliver, Lauren  Before I Fall

474 pp. | HarperCollins/Harper | March, 2010 | Trade ISBN 978-0-06-172680-4

Sam relives the last day of her life seven times, hoping to make amends with the family she's neglected and the schoolmates she and her friends have tormented. With each additional final day, Sam makes new mistakes and discoveries that bring her closer to redemption. This promising debut imbues small memories — a word, a joke, a kiss — with transformative power.


Peevyhouse, Parker  Where Futures End

291 pp. | Penguin/Dawson | February, 2016 | Trade ISBN 978-0-8037-4160-7

Five interrelated stories, each set at a different point in Earth's future, explore the power of social media, economic inequity, and environmental decay over time. When the first story's protagonist discovers how to travel to a utopian alternate universe, the repercussions ripple forward into the other stories. Compelling characters, literary allusions, challenging adventures, and thought-provoking concepts make this is a smart science-fiction puzzle for tenacious readers.


Pessl, Marisha  Neverworld Wake

327 pp. | Delacorte | June, 2018 | Trade ISBN 978-0-399-55392-9 | Library ISBN 978-0-399-55393-6 | Ebook ISBN 978-1-399-55395-0

A year after her charismatic boyfriend dies mysteriously, Bea visits an isolated mansion to reunite with their splintered group of prep-school friends. There, the teens become caught between life and death; until they can choose one among them to live, they are all doomed to repeat the same day forever. A macabre, twisting premise and troubled characters give this suspenseful supernatural novel an intense, dark tone.


Reynolds, Justin A.  Opposite of Always

457 pp. | HarperCollins/Tegen | March, 2019 | Trade ISBN 978-0-06-274837-9 | Ebook ISBN 978-0-06-274839-3

In this contemporary-set, time-bending love story, African American teens Jack (a high school senior) and Kate (a college freshman) meet at a party and fall in love. After Kate dies of complications from sickle cell disease, Jack begins to travel back in time over and over trying to save her. Jack is an everyday hero readers will root for as Reynolds spins this poignant, dizzying tale of love and loss.


Sedgwick, Marcus  The Ghosts of Heaven

360 pp. | Roaring Brook | January, 2015 | Trade ISBN 978-1-62672-125-8 | Paper ISBN 978-1-250-07367-9 | Ebook ISBN 978-1-62672-126-5

Four related stories range chronologically from the prehistoric past, to Britain at the end of the witch hunts, to an early-twentieth-century Long Island insane asylum, and finally to a spacecraft in the distant future. In each, the image of a spiral is associated with violence and horror. Satisfyingly brain-teasing conceptual elements help compensate for the distant narrative voice and stiff characters.


Shusterman, Neal  Everlost

315 pp. | Simon | October, 2006 | Trade ISBN 0-689-87237-2

Skinjacker Trilogy series. Allie and Nick wind up in "Everlost" after they're killed in a two-car collision. They find themselves in a forest, watched over by a boy who teaches them a few key points: e.g., always keep moving to avoid sinking through the earth. The action-packed, fully developed plot moves quickly; the characters grow and change as they cope with their new existence.


Tirado, Vincent  Burn Down, Rise Up

352 pp. | Sourcebooks/Fire | May, 2022 | Trade ISBN 978-1-7282-4600-0

In this horror novel grounded in a real-world setting, sixteen-year-old Raquel's life is upended when her friend disappears—part of a pattern of unexplained disappearances—and her mother is hospitalized due to a mysterious illness. Raquel is ­tormented by apparitions that lead her to understand that an evil force, "the Slumlord," is holding and "warping" many of the things she holds dear in a suspended state of reality that can be accessed only through a viral online challenge. As Raquel tries to save her mom, she and her friends risk everything to find answers. Along the way, she begins to understand who she is as a young queer woman and as part of a lineage of ­Dominicans who have stood up to injustice. Tirado's inventive imagination provides a heart-rending parable (including scenes of violence and trauma) that utilizes fantasy and spiritualism to cultivate a deeper understanding of systemic disenfranchisement of Dominican and other ­Afro-Latine immigrant communities. The author (a nonbinary Afro-Latine Bronx native) has personal ­connections that inform the thoughtful, creative depiction of lived experiences that many readers will find relatable. The sounds, smells, spirits, and shadows of the Bronx are vividly portrayed with lively language, making the fantastical seem totally possible.


Vande Velde, Vivian  23 Minutes

176 pp. | Boyds | April, 2016 | Trade ISBN 978-1-62979-441-9 | Ebook ISBN 978-1-62979-561-4

Fifteen-year-old Zoe stumbles upon an armed bank robbery. Attempting to alter the violent course of events, Zoe uses her ability to travel twenty-three minutes back in time, which she can only do ten times before the events become permanent. Each re-do has its own victims and complications, and reveals more backstory for everyone involved. A riveting reflection on ethical dilemmas.

Cynthia K. Ritter
Cynthia K. Ritter

Cynthia K. Ritter is managing editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She earned a master's degree in children's literature from Simmons University. She served on the 2019 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award committee.

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