CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 3 . . . . September 30, 2005
Sooner or later, most writers of fiction for children are tempted to try their hand at time travel. Though this fantasy genre has certain formulaic elements – the travel trigger, parallel plotlines, and symbiotic connections – it nevertheless allows authors to indulge their imaginations beyond the usual scope. Rarely, however, is the finished product as marvelously crafted and downright riveting as The Whistle by Valerie Rolfe Lupini.
While visiting her beloved grandfather, teenaged Mary discovers an old dog whistle. Compelled to blow it, she finds herself thrust backwards in time to the early 1900’s. However, she is not merely a visitor or an observer in this time; she is, in fact, the great-aunt for whom she was named, and – according to family members – for whom she bears an uncanny resemblance. This melding of identities not only gives Mary an opportunity to get to know family members she has only heard stories about; it also allows her to experience a critical time in her grandfather’s life and make right a wrong that has troubled him for over 65 years.
The dog whistle belonged to Mary’s great-grandfather, so it is a very real item in both the past and the present, and whenever it is blown Mary travels through time. Even though she may stay in the past for months, only seconds elapse in her real world, and since her body doesn’t actually go anywhere, no one suspects a thing. Gradually, however, she finds it more and more difficult to separate the two people she has become, and the painful events she experiences while in the past emotionally drain her when she returns to her own time.
The characters in this novel are beautifully drawn. As a result, the reader can’t help but care about them, celebrating their joyous times and suffering their tragedies. As for the plot, it is a cleverly crafted weaving. Threads are pulled from one plot into the other so effortlessly that by the story’s end, the result is a seamless tapestry.
This novel is a reminder of the importance of family. It shows how good people can make mistakes, and it speaks to the healing power of forgiveness. Rolfe Lupini may have written The Whistle for young readers, but I recommend it for everyone.
Kristin Butcher lives in Victoria, BC, and writes for children.
To comment on this
title or this review, send mail to email@example.com.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal
use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any
other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.