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Kit Pearson.
Markham, ON: Viking Kestrel, 1987.
186pp., cloth, $14.95.
ISBN 0-670-815322. Distributed by Penguin Canada. CIP.

Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13

Reviewed by Patricia Fry.

Volume 15 Number 4
1987 July

Fans of Pearson's The Daring Game ¹ will delight in her second novel, A Handful of Time, which is sure to attract a wide audience of readers. It focuses on 12-year-old Patricia who must travel to western Canada to spend the summer with her cousins because her parents are working out the details of their separation. With her world already very shaken by her parents' problems, Patricia's shyness becomes even more pronounced as she tries to find her place in the large boisterous family she's rarely met. When it becomes obvious that she and her cousins don't get along, the other children decide to leave Patricia by herself once they're out of Aunt Ginnie's sight and meet her again before returning to the cottage for supper.

While dreaming away those long afternoon hours in the guest cabin near the cottage, Patricia makes a discovery that changes her life. Under a loose floorboard, she finds an old pocket watch engraved with a mysterious inscription to her grandmother. When she winds the watch, she is transported back in time to the summer her own mother spent at this family cottage when she (the mother) was twelve. When Patricia is in time past, she's invisible and therefore free to be part of her mother's young life. When the watch runs down, she is transported back to the present until she winds the watch once more.

Patricia tells no one of her discovery but uses the knowledge of her family gained through her time travel to help make sense of her present life and of her place there. By the time the watch can no longer be wound, Patricia has learned enough to continue her voyage of self-discovery in the present.

This novel deals in a gentle but forthright manner with the inevitable problems in relationships, how some of those difficulties can be solved, and the rest accepted. The excitement of time travel and the suspense of solving the inscription on the watch are sure ingredients to enthrall youngsters. They'll line up for a chance to read this book!

Patricia Fry, Toronto, ON.

¹ Reviewed vol. XlV/4 July 1986, p.l67.

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