Middle Grade Readers Travel Through Time to the London Blitz
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve put aside the picture books and early chapter books and read two interesting books for middle grade readers that feature time travel. Suggested for children in grades six through nine, also referred to as middle grade readers, I have some reservations about the age range but enjoyed each of the books thoroughly.
London Calling written by Edward Bloor
Middle Grade Fiction published by Alfred A. Knopf
In London Calling by Edward Bloor, the central character is a seventh grade student at a private school in New Jersey. Hating school and disconnected from his family, Martin is sleeping his life away. When his grandmother dies, he is bequeathed a beautiful Philco Deluxe Art Deco radio. After he “started sleeping with the radio on … A boy – small,thin, dressed in mud-brown clothes – leaned out from behind the radio and whispered, “Johnny, will you help me?”.
At first fearful of the recurrent dream, through research, Martin confirms that his nighttime visitor is transporting him to 1940 London. Soon his directionless days become purposeful as he works to research dates, places and identities. Repeated visits to the wartorn city help him to understand how he can “help.”
I thoroughly enjoyed the book and particularly the portions set in the London Blitz. Having said that, I was disappointed by the following exchange,
“I keep it hidden under my bed.” she smiled devilishly. “Perhaps you should check under there.”
The General stared at her dumbly. Then he smiled back, slowly, acknowledging the joke. “Uh-huh. Sounds like I’d better.”
As much as I enjoyed the book, I’m just not sure some of the nuances will have meaning for middle grade readers aged 12, 13, 14. Is an allusion like this appropriate or necessary for a book intended for children in grades six through nine?