In 1940, Charlotte and her best friend, Kitty, listen as
Charlotte's father tells them his research on time travel.
When Charlotte and Kitty are put in danger because of the
secrets the German government believes Charlotte's father
has, Charlotte makes a snap decision that separates her from
everyone she loves. Alone and unsure, Charlotte knows only
that she must find Kitty.
ONCE WAS A TIME by Leila Sales is a beautiful story of
friendship. The friendship between Charlotte and Kitty is
the primary focus, but Charlotte has two other key
friendships that show how diverse relationships can be.
Kitty's friendship is sincere and full of shared memories,
and though her presence is largely absent once Charlotte
time travels, the reader can still clearly feel Charlotte's
unending loyalty. In her new time, Charlotte befriends
Dakota, and their friendship stands in direct contract to
Charlotte and Kitty's. Through Dakota, Sales shows that not
all friendships are good, and some people can be toxic. The
friendship with Jake is the most hopeful of all three,
showing that forgiveness is an important part of being
friends and that people can surprise you. As Charlotte
navigates the ideas of what makes a true friend and how does
one both have that and be that, readers will likely find
themselves reflecting on their own friendships.
The time travel aspect of the story is a solid element. The
plot raises the ethics of time travel, but it stays firmly
in the focus of personal relationships and how time and
separation can alter them. The actual science behind them is
rarely explored, giving just enough information to make it a
believable possibility. The details of the three big
settings (WW2 England, contemporary Wisconsin, and
contemporary Italy) are clearly well researched and make it
easy to create an internal visual.
Middle grade readers searching for stories of friendship,
splashes of time travel, and the difficulty of finding your
identity in unfamiliar waters will find ONCE WAS A TIME a
perfect shelf addition.
In the war-ravaged England of 1940, Charlotte Bromley is
sure of only one thing: Kitty McLaughlin is her best friend
in the whole world. But when Charlotte's scientist father
makes an astonishing discovery that the Germans will covet
for themselves, Charlotte is faced with an impossible choice
between danger and safety.
Should she remain with her friend
or journey to another time and place?
decision has huge consequences, and when she finds herself
alone in the world, unsure of Kitty's fate, she knows that
somehow, some way, she must find her way back to her friend.
Written in the spirit of classic time-travel tales, this
book is an imaginative and heartfelt tribute to the
unbreakable ties of friendship.