Jake and Marisol are cousins visiting the seaside home of their dearly loved but recently departed Nana. Their parents are sorting out Nana’s house to get it ready for sale, which is heartbreaking for everyone since the house is where they usually gather for family holidays and many happy memories have been created there.
The WoNana was an adventurous person who told amazing stories of her travels and experiences, and she inspired Jake and Marisol to be adventurous and brave. Jake seems to be quite resilient and self-starting. He has had to change schools, cities, and countries numerous times when his mother’s diplomatic service required. He has learnt not to hang on to things too tightly, as it is too painful when they must be let go. Marisol, on the other hand, approaches life differently and is emotionally invested in the people and places in her life. She is finding it very difficult to accept Nana’s absence and the divestment of the house.
Following a map left behind by Nana, Jake and Marisol embark on an adventure to a nearby lighthouse in a small boat. They are caught in a violent storm and become stranded. While seeking shelter in the lighthouse they inadvertently slip into another world. The World Between Blinks is a magical world, filled with all types of lost people and things. It is governed by a group of Curators who try to bring order and control.
Jake and Marisol must avoid the Curators and race against time to find a way out of the World Between Blinks or they will be stuck there forever. Their quest is like a treasure hunt and a suspenseful mystery, where they are forced to explore their values and emotions.
Fortunately, they encounter many helpful people including Amelia Earhart, Harold Holt and Oz, a thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger). Oz is a loyal companion who saves the day several times. Amelia Earhart champions the children and provides them with transport and advice. There are many historical mysteries in the World Between Blinks, and the children encounter the Loch Ness monster, see dinosaurs, visit ancient cities, meet the lost explorer Ludwig Leichhardt, and experience many other “lost” and “disappeared” creatures, places and things. It’s a crash course in historical anomalies, and I really appreciated the glossary at the back of the book.
The story is fast-paced, with numerous twists that keep the reader engaged as Jake and Marisol race to beat the sand in the hourglass, retain their memories and find their way back to their world and their family. Along the way they solve a family mystery and create a brighter future for those they love.
This book will appeal to readers 8+, especially fantasy fans. It’s also very accessible for reluctant readers: the fast pace, twists and suspense will keep them engaged. It’s a lot of fun, with themes of empathy, kindness and love at its core. It also encourages readers to be true to their feelings and values. It may also inspire young readers to research some of the lost people, places and things encountered by Jake and Marisol. If your child enjoys non-fiction more than fiction, this book could be a good bridge to encourage further fiction reading.
Amie Kaufman and Ryan Graudin have collaborated on several award-winning and bestselling books. Amie lives in Melbourne, Australia and Ryan lives in South Carolina, USA. They have both travelled widely, which is reflected in the diversity of characters, locations and experiences described in this book.