FICTION

The Longest Night of Charlie Noon

Delacorte. Aug. 2020. 176p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780593173084.
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Gr 3-7–Once upon a time, three children got lost in the woods. Except this story isn’t a fairy tale, and time is the problem. Charlie and Dizzy are on an adventure to find the spy who leaves messages in the woods. Johnny is there to bully Charlie and Dizzy. They quickly discover that the ciphers are not the only mysteries. Straight paths lead in circles, the sun sets hours before it should, and the stars appear in the wrong places. The adventure turns into a nightmare where time follows its own rules. The author explains on the first page that “once upon a time” does not exist. The reader may think he’s just being clever, but it is in that framework that the rest of the story twists and turns. The mystery gets more intense as the children venture deeper into the forest. Violent storms, disappearing bridges, and visions of the future add to their confusion. There is no anticipating what will come next. Once the action starts, it accelerates until the very end.
VERDICT Readers will find it difficult to put down this imaginative book. Highly recommended.

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