by Nancy Etchemendy
Book list Gr. 4^-7. Etchemendy's intriguing fantasy handles some powerful, big questions about life, the universe, and everything in it. Gib begins the tale throwing spitballs in math class with his science lab partner, Rainy. Rainy is supposed to baby-sit Roxy, Gib's spirited little sister, while Gib's parents go dancing and Gib and his best friend, Ash, go to the carnival on a long-planned excursion. But things go wrong, and Gib finds himself in the woods near his house with a strange, yet oddly familiar old man who smells like lightning. The man hands him an "unner," a rather badly made machine that can send Gib back in time. Gib thinks this is a great idea, especially after the trip to the carnival goes horribly wrong. In trying to right matters, Gib tackles free will, memory, the bending of time, and contradictory impulses in a way that will sound fairly logical to middle-schoolers. For children not quite old enough for Norma Howe's Adventures of Blue Avenger (1999), this book deftly handles some eternal philosophical questions. --GraceAnne A. DeCandido
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
School Library Journal Gr 4-8-Who wouldn't want the ability to undo a mistake, an accident, or even a tragedy, after it happens? Once he has the Unner, a makeshift creation of old parts and electronic gizmos, middle-schooler Gib Finney has that power, but first he has to figure out how to use it. His practice time is suddenly cut short when his little sister is hit by a truck and ends up in a life-threatening coma. If the Unner really works, it could save Roxy's life, but there could be far-reaching consequences to rearranging links on the chain of time, and Gib is just beginning to realize how interconnected they are. The setting could be any small town in America, some decades ago. Most of the characters neatly fit stereotypes common to such settings-the happy nuclear family, loyal best friend, mysterious carnival fortune-teller, and more. While Gib is the only fully developed character, the unique and interesting plot featuring a practical look at the possibilities and results of planned time travel make up for the otherwise shallow characterizations. As the story gathers speed, suspense builds to a surprising and satisfying conclusion with room for more than one sequel. The book's themes and plot twists take it beyond the conventional, resulting in a delightfully thought-provoking science-fiction story.-Susan L. Rogers, Chestnut Hill Academy, PA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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