“Touching, silly and exciting by turns, this thrilling little book is an inventive take on time travel for children. Sure to be a hit with fans of R.J. Palacio’s Wonder… an unforgettable, madcap story from a bright new talent in Children’s fiction.”


Portals that lead to other worlds are a part of children’s fantasy literature, whether they are Narnia’s cupboards, Harry Potter’s portkeys or, in this case, grey holes. Ross Welford continues his sci-fi trend with a world threatened by immediate war – something that given the Ukraine crisis goes close to the core. Willa Shafto’s family has its own civil war in progress because Willa’s parents are arguing over the future of their business and the loner Willa, all of 12, finds herself in Coventry in her class. The only person she can talk to is the eccentric 80-year old Maudie who tinkers with broken down bicycles and brews up magical hot chocolate. That is, until the equally lone Manny turns up in his rainbow clothes and a strange hybrid cryptid materialises out of the waters.

In following the mysterious creature, Willa and Manny find themselves in another dimension where their old selves and their families exist but in new guises. A world where the abbreviation WWW means something quite different from what it does in this 21st century one and which seems to be quite a perfect existence with happy families and colourful clothes and lab created fish and meat so that no one need worry about being carnivorous.

Welford’s take on time-travel is a conceptual story of what our world could be if the politicians and people handled it right which is all the more real given the current war mongering scenario. It is also a story of relationships between friends, schoolmates and families. There are thrills like mid-air chases and snatching at things in the nick of time before they disappear. Emotion, happy endings, conspiracy theories and errm child dysfuntionality – after all, why tell adults when you know they won’t believe you? – contribute to this thoughtful potboiler of a book!


Reviewed by:

Anjana Basu

Added 5th December 2022

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