Time travel with a twist adds to the incredibility of Leila Sales book, Once Was a Time. Lottie, the protagonist narrator, admits right from the start that few people believe in time travel. Then the author makes it more unbelievable by having her protagonist travel forward in time rather than to an unknown world like the classic Wrinkle in Time or backwards like the book I recently reviewed, Into the Dim.
Lottie’s father, a scientist in the 1940 wartime London, is on the verge of discovering the mysteries of time travel that may save the world from the Nazis. This makes him a person of interest to both British and German governments which leads to the kidnapping of Lottie and her friend Kitty. They are locked in a cellar to coerce the father to reveal his secrets where Lottie spots the brief portal for time travel and escapes, without her friend, to a small Wisconsin town in 2013.
The rest of the book is driven by Lottie’s guilt for not holding onto Kitty’s hand long enough to assure that she would also came through and her search for a way to reconnect with Kitty while dealing with a world filled with fashions, technology, and ideas that are strange to her.
Middle grade time travel fans will likely not be concerned that Lottie is more worried about locating Kitty than about finding her parents or her two siblings, nor will they worry about the coincidences that lead her search. They will enjoy the humor, suspense, and endless anagrams. Loving nothing more than additional incredibility, they will enjoy the twist of traveling forward in time.