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Tumbleglass by Kate Constable


Anything that has time travel in it has a solid premise on which to build a really fascinating read for young people. The viewing of the past through the lens of modern young people is always both fresh and entertaining. Everything from the awe at the simplicities of the past to the humour they find through seeing things like old black and white televisions and lack of things like cell phones. But it is also a wonderful way for young people to experience the devastation that came from things such as the world wars, and the time before science made things so much easier and simpler for people.


Such is the case with the newest novel from Australian author Kate Constable. Her novel, Tumbleglass, centres on the main character Rowan and his search through time for his sister. Referred to as a time slip more than time travel, Rowan skips back and forth between several eras in an attempt to locate his misplaced sibling.


Unable to tell adults around him that this loss has happened, Rowan turns to his neighbour, Verity, for some help. Rowan has always secretly thought that Verity has some kind of mystical powers, so who better to help with the situation?


Set in Melbourne, Australia, the story effortlessly shows the strength of Constable’s writing as she navigates some pretty tricky eras in history. Beginning with 1999, she captures that feeling of concern as the world is about to flick over to the new millennium (remember that debacle!) and some of the misplaced anxiety that came along with it. In addition, the worlds of 1976, 1900 and 1943 are also explored. Some are more problematic than others, but they still provide an insight into the lives of local people at that time.


There is something quite special about Constable’s writing. The January Stars was a wonderful piece for young people that really captured some of the thoughts and feelings of intergenerational relationships.


Overall, this novel ticks all the boxes in terms of energy-filled adventure, drama and tension, and a really great chase for finding Rowan’s sister. The thing is, can they find her in time, or will she be lost to the annals of time forever?


Reviewer: Chris Reed

Allen & Unwin

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