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DON'T KNOW WHERE, DON'T KNOW WHEN

Did you ever wonder what it would be like to travel in time? In Don't Know Where, Don't Know When by Annette Laing, 12-year old Hannah Dias, her 10-year old brother Alex, and their 11-year old friend Brandon Clark were plucked out of present-time Georgia and dropped in the middle of London during World War II. In London the kids were separated and Brandon was pulled even farther back in time-- to World War I. Before returning home the kids had to find someone named George Braithwaite and find out why he was so important. He was, they learned, the key to getting home. I really loved this book because history was brought to life, I had the sense I was right alongside the characters, and the suspense kept me up reading all night under the covers with a flashlight.

This book combined fact and fiction in a way that was captivating. The fact was layered under the fiction, so there was never too much real world information at one time. The fiction was woven so well into the historical setting that time travel became real. During both World Wars people had to run and hide from bombs. Food was rationed to the point where may were starving or half starving. Children were expected to clean their plate or else.

This book had a great sense of place. Wherever the kids were, I was right alongside them. At one point in the story, the author was describing Brandon's room. I saw it. I envisioned the stacks and stacks of books piled randomly around the room. I visualized the glow-in-the-dark-star stickers slowly peeling off the ceiling. Ditto for England in the 20th Century. I was right next to Alex and Hannah as they walked down the almost deserted country road in 1940. I pictured Mrs. Devenish's old, yet well kept up Victorian house with the small greenhouse in the backyard. I saw Mrs. Devenish, Mrs. D., fixing the kids tea with honey in her small, immaculate kitchen. Then I winced as I saw her face when she realized Hannah had wasted food.

This book was filled to the brim with suspense. At one point, Hannah was walking by the back of a neighbor's house, tossing around a rock with some of her friends. She lost control of the stone and it shattered a window. As she and her friends were running away through the neighboring woods, they saw a face watching them from an upstairs window. Would she be caught? And for most of the book the kids kept wondering if they would ever find George Braithwaite and be able to return to the present, especially after weeks of 1940's life. I was never sure if they'd return or not.

Don't Know Where, Don't Know When mixed fiction with fact, made me feel that I was in the book, and was so suspensful that I had a hard time putting it down. The main characters reacted to situations in realistic ways. This book also had a unique storyline. In conclusion, Don't Know Where, Don't Know When by Annette Laing was an extraordinary book that had everything: good dialogue, a unique storyline, and characters that will captivate readers of all ages.

 

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