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Counter Clockwise
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Counter Clockwise

4.6 3
by Jason Cockcroft

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What if your mother were hit by a bus?

And what if your father disappeared one day through a hole in the bathroom wall?

Is there a way to change the course of your life's history?

What if time moved

In this dazzling debut novel, Jason Cockcroft has crafted a mind-bending adventure with a startlingly original narrative structure.


What if your mother were hit by a bus?

And what if your father disappeared one day through a hole in the bathroom wall?

Is there a way to change the course of your life's history?

What if time moved

In this dazzling debut novel, Jason Cockcroft has crafted a mind-bending adventure with a startlingly original narrative structure.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In British illustrator Cockcroft's promising first novel, Nathan Cobbe copes as best he can with the death of his mother, hit by a bus a year earlier. But his father, Henry, will do whatever it takes to prevent her from dying, even if that means traveling back in time. Focusing less on Henry and more on Nathan's experiences, the book successfully avoids explaining the mechanics of Henry's time-travel, details not as important as the chaos he creates. A mysterious Beefeater appears as a kind of guide for Nathan, who eventually gets drawn into the alternate realities engendered by Henry's actions. Humorous motifs (a dog that can be placated only by bubble gum, news reports about an Esperanto-speaking mule, etc.) leaven the situation, and Nathan himself invites readers' steady attention: he responds realistically to the strange events, asking insightful questions and making understandable mistakes. The powerful messages-the need to accept the hand we're dealt and not to let time slip by-mix enticingly with the lightly introduced philosophical and scientific concepts. Ages 10-up. (Feb.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
VOYA - Diane Colson
Nathan's mother was killed when she was hit by a bus. Now Nathan lives with his father, Henry, who desperately wants to go back and save Nathan's mother from her death. So desperately, perhaps, that Henry will achieve the impossible. He will move back in time to prevent the accident. Or will he only succeed in getting himself killed as well? Nathan is literally tossed between these possibilities in this engaging story that blends realistic aspects of loss with the solutions of fantasy. Of course, Henry wants to stop his beloved (but estranged) wife from stepping in front of the bus. And yet, when he attempts his rescue, their son's future is altered because then Henry himself is in the path of the bus as well. The book assumes a Groundhog Day feel as Nathan finds himself reliving the very day that Henry forces his way into the past. Nathan's own experiences on that day include meeting with a jovial Beefeater, a figure that many American readers may find mystifying. Indeed many London references might be unfamiliar, but it should not detract from the pleasurably intricate plot. Cockcroft employs a cleverness that keeps the story fresh, with characters that reappear in altered realities. Although the book is a quick read, with a narrative feel that suggests a young readership, it should appeal to fantasy fans from middle through high school. Reviewer: Diane Colson
Children's Literature - Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger
When Nathan sees his father driving up to the school, he knows something must be terribly wrong. His father never comes to the school. When his teacher directs him to the office, he finds his father standing there with the worst news Nathan can imagine—his mother has been hit by a bus and has died. A year later, that experience continues to haunt Nathan and his father. Then Nathan encounters a Beefeater in the halls of school and realizes his father is so desperate to go back in time and save his mother that he has entered another dimension. Bartleby the Beefeater is Nathan's guide as he travels through time in an attempt to find his father and, perhaps, help him save his mother. But when he arrives at the day of her accident, Nathan realizes the perils of changing the past. Can Nathan set things right for his family? The story is very well paced and Nathan is an appealing, realistic character. Most suitable for 10 and up. Reviewer: Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger
Kirkus Reviews
Nathan's life changes when his mother is hit by a bus and dies. He goes to live with his estranged father, a soap salesman who is not quite on track with the rest of the world and, in fact, literally disappears with a bang, leaving a man-shaped hole in the wall of the bathroom. Assisted by a mysterious Beefeater, Nathan chases his father through the "orange skin" of time to the moment of his mother's death-more than once. Cockcroft's debut provides readers with a pretzeled plot of alternate futures (complicated more by arbitrary narrative shifts than by actual shifts in time), well tempered with a sense of the ludicrous. Sometimes this tone misfires-the Beefeater is prone to pronouncements that sound quirkily wise but actually make no sense ("Have you ever tried juicing an orange in its skin? It's not easy"). But though the voice and the plot are not so refined as those of Pratchett or Wynne Jones, the spirit is the same, and just holds everything in place. Sadly, many Briticisms have been Americanized for publication on these shores. (Fantasy. 9-13)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Counter Clockwise SNY

Chapter One

The Bus

When Nathan's father told him the news, his voice seemed lost in the quiet of the schoolroom...as though it didn't belong, Nathan thought.

Nathan couldn't remember his father, Henry, having ever visited the school before. Not for parents' evenings, or school plays. Not even when he and Nathan's mom were still married. That's why when Nathan saw Henry's car arrive at the school gates, he knew something terrible had happened. By the time his teacher, Miss Feather, called Nathan into the school office, Henry was already waiting for him, his face as gray and crumpled as his tie.

"Nathan, it's your mother," Henry began. "She's been in an accident."

Henry waited for Nathan to say something, but Nathan was silent. He couldn't speak. His mouth was dry, and he felt a numbing ache against his forehead, as though a cold fist were pressing down on him.

"She was hit by a bus," Henry continued. "The driver didn't see her until it was too late."

Nathan hesitated. "But she's okay?"

"No, Nathan. No. I'm afraid she's not."

The fist pressed down harder, and Nathan felt hot tears prick his eyes. It had been only a few hours since he'd last seen her. As he was leaving for school, she'd kissed him once on the cheek; then she'd pulled on her coat...the green one Henry had bought her for her birthday. She was leaving too, and so they walked out of the house together. The last thing his mom had said to him was not to come home too late because they had plans for the evening.

"But we're going out tonight," Nathan told Henry, remembering. "We're going to see a movie. We'd planned it,"he added, trying to make Henry understand...Henry knew how much Nathan's mom loved the movies.

Miss Feather was standing with Nathan. When he began to cry, she took hold of his hand, trying to comfort him, but Nathan didn't want her holding his hand. He didn't want her, and he didn't want Henry. He wanted his mother.

"We're going to the movies...tonight!" he told them.

"Nathan. Your mom's dead, son," Henry said, grabbing Nathan's arm. "Do you understand? She's gone."

"No...she's not! She can't be!"

He couldn't believe she was dead. He didn't want to believe it. He didn't want to think that he'd never see her again. Never hug her, or...

"It's a mistake," he said. "It has to be a mistake."

"I'm afraid it's no mistake, Nathan. She's dead. I'm . . . I'm sorry."

Nathan shook his head. But no matter how much he wanted to believe Henry was wrong, the look on Miss Feather's face told him everything he had said was true: Nathan would never see his mother again. He'd never have the chance to say good-bye, to tell her he loved her. Because she was gone.

She was gone forever.

And at that moment Nathan realized that nothing in his life would ever be the same again. . . .

Counter Clockwise SNY. Copyright © by Jason Cockcroft. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Jason Cockcroft is the illustrator of many acclaimed picture books, including Room for a Little One: A Christmas Tale by Martin Waddell, Billywise by Judith Nicholls, and Jason and the Golden Fleece by James Riordan. He lives in Whitby, England, with his wife, Lisa, and their two cats. This is his first novel.

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Counter Clockwise 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
After Nathan's mother is hit by a bus, his life changes dramatically. As he struggles to come to terms with her loss and learns to live with his father, his life takes a sudden turn . . . one he never thought possible. His father mysteriously vanishes through a hole in the bathroom wall. Trying desperately to keep his life from falling apart, Nathan tries to find his father but bizarre things continue to happen. He ends up in the past, trying to keep his father from ruining their only chance at happiness. COUNTER CLOCKWISE is a fun, quickly paced novel in which the main character grows as he discovers how the past, present, and future are linked. Cockcroft creates a relatable character in Nathan, and I enjoyed going COUNTER CLOCKWISE.