Annette Laing's The Snipesville Chronicles
Ruby in the Ruins
Elementary , Fiction , Historical , Picture Book / April 29, 2018

A young girl and her mother survive the London bombings during WWII and await her father’s homecoming. When it arrives, Ruby finds him strange–whether because he’d changed a lot or she simply did not remember him, it does not specify. However, when she finds herself in trouble after playing in the fenced-off ruins of a bombed out building, he comes to her rescue. This story recounts the hardships of the war, the losses that families in London suffered, and the ways in which they pieced their lives back together. The author is also the illustrator, and has done a wonderful job depicting a devastating landscape with bright and cheerful reunions and children’s shenanigans (ink, gouache, and watercolor were used). The cover fonts complement the artwork perfectly and the board interiors feature interesting period ads.

The Chronocar
Fiction , Sci-Fi , Teen , Timeslip / April 25, 2018

This story opens in 1888 with the son of a slave, Simmie Johnson, working his way to Alabama where he hopes to attend Tuskegee College. Simmie is gifted and scientifically inclined, but trouble courts him with every step. Fast forward to 2015, Tony Carpenter, a student at the Illinois Institute of Technology, comes across an old science journal written by a Dr. Simmie L. Johnson more than a century before. Coupled with the teachings of Nicola Tesla, Tony builds the time machine described by Johnson and sets out to find him in the past. Unfortunately, things don’t go exactly as planned, and Tony finds himself in a series of dilemmas. Due to some language and violence, this is recommended for mature or older teens. It portrays the ugly realities of racial violence in the Reconstruction era as well as the continued troubles during Jim Crow. Through the character of Tony, current racial tensions are explored and compared. Those familiar with the landscape of Chicago will enjoy the early 20th century descriptions of the city. Science fiction, admittedly, is not my preferred genre, and I don’t feel qualified enough to expound upon the time-travel details–of which are copious. It is a…