The Accidental Time Traveller by Janis Mackay (expected publication May 1, 2013*)
Twelve-year-old Saul is on his way to the shops, expecting to pick up some cookies and sweets, when a young girl in old fashioned clothes suddenly appears in the street. She is terrified by the oncoming traffic, dazed and bewildered and clearly not a local. Except, as Saul finds out, she is a local. She's just 200 years out of time. Saul takes the girl, Agatha Black, to his fort and decides he will help her get back to her own time.
I have some mixed feelings about this book. I expected it to be a little more on the adventure and science fiction side, especially with Time Traveller in the title (I'm a huge Doctor Who fan, so that may have unduly influenced my expectations). The book turned out to be more a "learning about yourself and others" story, as Saul learns to connect with Agatha, stand up to the local bully, be friends with a girl (I'd forgotten how big a deal this is for younger kids). Thankfully, Mackay steers pretty clear of the preachiness to which this sort of story often falls prey. Once I got over my disappointment at the lack of a strong sci-fi element (and at the actual mechanism of time travel -- I won't spoil it, but it is a little bit of a let down), I found I rather liked Saul and his friends. I read something in The Guardian about looking for "normal" boys in fiction -- leaving aside the very problematic and loaded nature of that question -- and I think this book would fill the bill for a "normal" boy quite nicely. Ultimately I like the book and I think upper elementary school readers will like it as well.
*Thanks to NetGalley for my copy.
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