In 1864, mudlark Needle scours the riverbank for treasures his mum can sell at the market. With his dad away money is scarce. Luckily, his crow, Magpie, is adept at finding shiny objects in the mud. They chance upon an object more curious most and Needle ends up in an ‘else-time’: 1928. He strikes up a close friendship with apprentice jewellery maker, Glory. And together they embark on warning the town of a flood that will devastate the community and take the lives of fourteen souls.
Sitting in the time-slip genre, Elsetime follows in the footsteps, but not in the shadows, of some classic children’s literature. Books such as Tom’s Midnight Garden, Charlotte Sometimes, and The Children of Green Knowe are but three. Eve McDonnell’s text sits nicely alongside these as a great example of storytelling. And as with these, the attention to detail and rewarding end is brilliant.
Filled with memorable characters, Elsetime has you rooting for the two protagonists from the moment you meet them. Needle and Glory jump from the page and stand-out as individuals. Uniquely, Needle has the condition synesthesia, where various senses are stimulated rather than one. For Needle, this means he sees colours when people are speaking and it gives him a more accurate picture of people’s emotions. Similarly, Glory isn’t without her uniqueness either, and she doesn’t let her wooden hand hold her back. No matter how frustrating it can sometimes be.
Above all, Elsetime has a great deal of heart, with love and courage at its core and floods the reader with emotion. Consequently, It’s the kind of book which reminds you what the real treasures in life are. Appealing to UKS2 readers, it’s a candidate for your next class read. Be a crow and drop this treasure onto their laps.
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