A Tale of Time City

( 13 )

Overview

London, 1939. Vivian Smith thinks she is being evacuated to the countryside, because of the war. But she is being kidnapped - out of her own time. Her kidnappers are Jonathan and Sam, two boys her own age, from a place called Time City, designed especially to oversee history. But now history is going critical, and Jonathan and Sam are convinced that Time City's impending doom can only be averted by a twentieth-century girl named Vivian Smith. Too bad they have the wrong girl. . ...

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A Tale of Time City

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Overview

London, 1939. Vivian Smith thinks she is being evacuated to the countryside, because of the war. But she is being kidnapped - out of her own time. Her kidnappers are Jonathan and Sam, two boys her own age, from a place called Time City, designed especially to oversee history. But now history is going critical, and Jonathan and Sam are convinced that Time City's impending doom can only be averted by a twentieth-century girl named Vivian Smith. Too bad they have the wrong girl. . . .

In 1939 an eleven-year-old London girl is kidnapped to Time City, a place existing outside the stream of time and manipulating the history of humanity, where she finds the inhabitants facing their worst hour of crisis.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The pioneer family of Journey to Nowhere and Frozen Summer returns for this installment, set in 1817, as 13-year-old Remembrance Nye leads her younger siblings back from upstate New York to their grandmother's house in Connecticut. Ages 10-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Vivian Smith, a young evacuee from the London blitz, is being sent to stay with her mother's Cousin Marty. But Vivian is met by a young boy named Jonathan, not Cousin Marty, who kidnaps her and takes her to Time City, a place that exists in space and time outside history. Jonathan, the son of one of Time City's prominent families, and his cousin Sam have brought Vivian there because they think she can save the city from its predicted destruction. But the two have made a mistake: V.S., as they call her, is not who they thought. Now the three of them must save the city from ruin and figure out how to return return V.S. to the ``Twenty Century.'' Although the book is slightly confusing at the beginning, with its time travels to various ``unstable'' periods of history, Jones (author of Howl's Moving Castle and Warlock at the Wheel) has written a powerfully moving story about children who are, quite literally, racing through time to save their world. Ages 12-up. (October)
Children's Literature
Vivian Smith is not who Jonathan Lee Walker and Samuel Lee Donegal think she is. She is a twelve-year-old human living in England in 1939. Along with a train full of other children, she is being sent away from the city to avoid the bombings. Unlike many of the children, however, she knows exactly where she's going--she will be staying in the country with her cousin Marty. When she steps off the train, Jonathan greets her and identifies himself as her long-lost cousin. While she is confused, she follows him into a strange room, sort of like a phone booth, where both she and Jonathan discover there's been a mix-up. Jonathan is on a mission to find a woman traveling under the initials V.S., who is the Time Lady and the only one that can save his home, Time City. Time City is a fantastic place, built on a patch of space and time outside our own, but lately it has been deteriorating, almost coming apart at the seams. The Time Lady is the only one who can awaken Faber John, the city's founder, and save it from impeding destruction. It is now up to Jonathan, his sidekicks Sam and Vivian to find the four "polarities," which are the key to Time City's existence. Diana Wynne Jones, regarded as one of Britain's premier fantasy writers for young people, has produced another fascinating work of science fiction and adventure, brought to you by cast of truly unique and amusing characters. 2002, HarperTrophy, $16.95 and $6.95. Ages 10 to 14. Reviewer: Carlie Kraft
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up High-spirited time travel fantasy that is sure to delight its readers. When 11-year-old Vivian Smith is evacuated from London in 1939, she expects to end up in the peaceful British countryside. Instead she is kidnapped by two youthful time travellers who mistake her for the ``Time Lady'' and whisk her off to Time City, a richly imagined alternative world which exists in time but not in history. Time City observers, Viv learns, have reason to believe that the Time Lady, the wife of the founder of Time Citya mysterious Merlin figureis at large in history and is busily altering it, thereby endangering not only the historical world but Time City itself. If Vivian is to return to her own world and time, it will be necessary for her to help her kidnappers foil the Time Lady first. That almost nothingwhether person or incidentis precisely what it appears to be at first encounter both complicates Vivian's task and delights readers. This ability to surprise has become a Diana Wynne Jones signature, as have her unflagging inventiveness and almost uncanny ability to create imaginary worlds of resounding reality, a capacity based in part on her attention to detail and in part on her capacity to create believable and sympathetic characters. All of these gifts are in abundant evidence in A Tale of Time City which is, accordingly, absolutely first-rate entertainment. And to her fans, this will be one of the few things about her new book which will come as no surprise! Michael Cart, Beverly Hills Public Lib .
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142420157
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/12/2012
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 184,102
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.48 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 1.07 (d)

Meet the Author

Diana Wynne Jones was the multiple award-winning author of many fantasy novels for children, teenagers, and adults. Her book Howl's Moving Castle was made into an Academy Award-nominated major animated feature by Hayao Miyazaki. She received the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007. Married to the medievalist J. A. Burrow, with whom she had three sons, she lived for many years in Bristol, the setting for many of her books. Diana Wynne Jones passed away in March 2011, after a long illness.

Ursula K. Le Guin is the revered author of Tales from Earthsea.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Kidnapped

The train journey was horrible. There was a heat wave that September in 1939, and the railway authorities had fastened all the windows shut so that none of the children packed onto the train could fall out. There were several hundred of them, and nearly all of them screamed when they saw a cow. They were all being sent away from London from the bombing, and most of them had no idea where milk came from. Each child carried a square brown gas mask box. All of them had labels with their names and addresses on them, and the littlest ones (who cried and wet themselves rather often) had the labels tied round their necks with string.

Vivian, being one of the bigger ones, had her label tied to the string bag Mum had found to take the things that refused to fit into her suitcase. That meant that Vivian did not dare let go of the string bag. When your surname is Smith, you need to make very sure everyone knows just which Smith you are. Vivian had carefully written Cousin Marty's name and address on the back of the label, to show that she was not just being sent into the country, like most of the children, to be taken in by anyone who would have her. Cousin Marty, after a long delay, had promised to meet the train and have Vivian to stay with her until the danger of bombs was over. But Vivian had never met Cousin Marty, and she was terrified that they would somehow miss each other. So she hung on to the string bag until its handles were wet with sweat and the plaited pattern was stamped in red on her hands.

Half of the children never stayed still for a moment. Sometimes the carriage where Vivian sat filled with smallboys in gray shorts, whose skinny legs were in thick gray socks and whose heads, each in a gray school cap, seemed too big for their bare, skinny necks. Sometimes a mob of little girls in dresses too long for them crowded in from the corridor. All of them screamed. There were always about three labels saying “Smith” on each fresh crowd. Vivian sat where she was and worried that Cousin Marty would meet the wrong Smith, or meet the wrong train, or that she herself would mistake someone else for Cousin Marty, or get adopted by someone who thought she had nowhere to go. She was afraid she would get out at the wrong station or find out that the train had taken her to Scotland instead of the West of England. Or she would get out, but Cousin Marty would not be there.

Mum had packed some sandwiches in the string bag, but none of the other evacuees seemed to have any food. Vivian did not quite like to eat when she was the only one, and there were too many children for her to share with. Nor did she dare take off her school coat and hat for fear they got lost. The floor of the train was soon littered with lost coats and caps -- and some labels -- and there was even a lost squashed gas mask. So Vivian sat and sweltered and worried. By the time the train chuffed its crowded hot fighting screaming crying laughing way into a station at last, it was early evening, and Vivian had thought of every single thing that could possibly go wrong except the one that actually did.

The name of the station was painted out to confuse the enemy, but porters undid the doors, letting in gusts of cool air and shouting in deep country voices, “All get out here! The train stops here!”

The screaming stopped. All the children were stunned to find they had arrived in a real new place. Hesitantly at first, then crowding one another's heels, they scrambled down.

Vivian was among the last to get off. Her suitcase stuck in the strings of the luggage rack, and she had to climb on the seat to get it down. With her gas mask giving her square, jumbling bangs and her hands full of suitcase and string bag, she went down onto the platform with a flump, shivering in the cool air. It was all strange. She could see yellow fields beyond the station buildings. The wind smelled of cow dung and chaff.

There was a long, muddled crowd of adults up at the other end of the platform. The porters and some people with official armbands were trying to line the children up in front of them and get them shared out to foster homes. Vivian heard shouts of “Mrs. Miller, you can take two. One for you, Mr. Parker. Oh, you're brother and sister, are you? Mr. Parker, can you take two?”

I'd better not get mixed up in that, Vivian thought. That was one worry she could avoid. She hung back in the middle of the platform, hoping Cousin Marty would realize. But none of the waiting crowd looked at her. “I'm not having all the dirty ones!” someone was saying, and this seemed to be taking everyone's attention. “Give me two clean and I'll take two dirty to make four. Otherwise I'm leaving.”

Vivian began to suspect that her worry about Cousin Marty's not being there was going to be the right one. She pressed her mouth against her teeth in order not to cry -- or not to cry yet.A hand reached round Vivian and spread out the label on the string bag. “Ah!” said someone. “Vivian Smith!”

Vivian whirled round. She found herself facing a lordly-looking dark boy in glasses. He was taller than she was and old enough to wear long trousers, which meant he must be at least a year older than she was. He smiled at her, which made his eyes under his glasses fold in a funny way along the eyelids. “Vivian Smith,” he said, “you may not realize this, but I am your long-lost cousin.”

A Tale of Time City. Copyright © by Diana Jones. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 13 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2002

    great book

    i loved this book it was so ggod n i love a lot of books by the author like The Chrestomanci Chronicles The Dalemark Quartet

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2012

    Great read

    Great story...read it years ago and almost forgot to return it to the library

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2012

    Remembered this from my childhood

    I read this as a kid and never quit forgot it... found it again and loved reading it all over again. Great book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 6, 2004

    Greatest Book Ever

    This is one of my favorite books!! Deffinatly in top 5!!! the conflict is a little comlicated, but still the best!! It is amazing how Dianna Wynne Jones can throw an ordinary character into a bizare situation and make it so great!!!!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2002

    A Great Book !

    This is a great book to buy for your kids! The nonstop action and adventure will leave them with their mouths open, and begging for more. This is definately a book that will interest all the young readers, including those who dislike reading normally.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2002

    My Review

    this book was good but not outstanding. its fairly short with a plot that should have untangled and weaved together from its many unique adventures in a longer story. if you want to just pick up a quick read, this book is defantly the way to go!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2002

    Dark Lord of Derkholm Meets The Time Machine: Another Score For Jones

    'A Tale Of Time City,' one of Jones better singles, is an entertaining, classical tale of time travel and more proof to the statement that one person, or three in this case, can save the world. Vivian Smith, V.S., in another timeless tale of mistaken identity, is abducted by two boys, Jonathon and Sam, from Time City, a city set apart from time on a seperate patch of space where it monitors history. Its up to the three childred to save Time City from dissappearing, or grinding to a stand still, even if it means committing the most dreadful crimes someone in Time City can: venturing into an unstable era without permission. But what can two boys, and a girl from WW2 England possibly do to save history and their beloved city? This book was great, and don't be fooled by the lame cover and slow beginning. Jones weaves a tale through all times and space that kept me captivated for at least two days.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted June 24, 2012

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