A Tale of Time City

A Tale of Time City

by Diana Wynne Jones


View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Wednesday, August 28


A  thrilling story by the legendary Diana Wynne Jones—with an introduction by Ursula K. Le Guin.

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. . . .

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780142420157
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 04/12/2012
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 631,903
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 10 - 14 Years

About 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.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

A Tale of Time City 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story...read it years ago and almost forgot to return it to the library
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this as a kid and never quit forgot it... found it again and loved reading it all over again. Great book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
katekf on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A Tale of Time City follows Vivian Smith, an evacuee from London who is pulled from her train to a place called Time City which is out of time by two boys having an adventure. The book moves quickly as things are going wrong in Time City and Jonathan and Sam are trying to figure out how to fix it and they think Vivian can help. I found this book a satisfying read and many of the things that Diana Wynne Jones does best in her books appear such as kids who sounds like kids, complicated plots, humor and deep world building. In terms of age, I would recommend this book to ages twelve and up as it deals in passing with some difficult issues concerning war and changing history.
inky6 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a great adventurous book about a girl and these two boys. She's trying to help these boys save history. There's a guy named Faber John in Time City and the legend is that he sleeps under the city, but really a part of him is there all the time. They don't realize that the person they go to see every day after school is Faber John.
annapanda on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dianna Wynne Jones' book, A Tale of Time City, tells the story of Vivian Smith, who is stolen from her own time period (1939, during WWII), and transported to Time City, a city that stands outside of history. This city is in charge of making sure that history happens as it is supposed to, gently nudging the right people in the right direction, or preventing things from being invented too soon.Vivian is kidnapped by two young boys, Jonathan and Sam, who overhear their parents saying that they need to find a Vivian Smith in order to awaken Faber John, the founder of the city. Time City is unraveling, and he is the only one that can put it right. However, Jonathan and Sam have captured the wrong girl, and since it's illegal to bring anyone from History back to Time City, she has no choice but to stay with Jonathan and Sam and help them save Time City.I always enjoy reading Dianna Wynne Jones. I think that she is an excellent author of young adult fantasy. I devoured The Dark Lord of Derkholm and Deep Secret and anything else I could get my hands on by her. However, I was a little disappointed by this book. Maybe because it was written for a younger audience that I had anticipated, or maybe it was another reason that I couldn't quite place my finger on, but I constantly found myself being let down by the quality of the writing and the how in-depth Jones went with the story. Yes, it was entertaining, and I enjoyed reading it (after all, it's a fantasy novel, and I've always had a soft spot for those), but I felt like she could have done so much more with the idea that she presented her readers with.I also thought that the ending wrapped everything up a little too nicely for my tastes, as well. It took about a page and a half to tie allt he loose ends together, and I was really hoping for something a lot more. I don't want to ruin it for anyone that might pick up a copy of the book, but at the end I couldn't help but let out a loud groan.I would recommend this book to anyone that's familiar with Dianna Wynne Jones' work. Although not her strongest (in my opinion), it's a quick read, and if you're looking for some easy entertainment, it's worth picking up.I think I would give it a 2 out of 5 stars, personally.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
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!
Guest More than 1 year ago
'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.