The Time Seekers
by D. A. Squires

"…Whenever the thick Atlantic fog rolls in or a nor’easter brings winter snow squalls from the ocean, The Pine School disappears altogether."

Certain literary recipes just seem to work. Stir up a handful of orphans, a spooky old house, a remote and sinister private school, some talking animals, a sprinkling of magic and mystery, and... voila! Suddenly you have a fun and original reading adventure. Alexandra and her blue and gold macaw parrot Taco are feeling gloomy when Alexandra heads reluctantly into her sixth year at the dreary and offbeat Pine School. Soon, however, the arrival of a compelling new teacher sets Alexandra and some friends on a series of adventures that bend the rules of time and alter their destinies.

This is a clever and compelling story that uses whimsy and mystery as vehicles to convey moving themes of determination, family, and belonging. The story stands well on its own while at the same time paying homage to time-honored book orphans like Oliver Twist, Anne Shirley, and Harry Potter. Plucky orphans make for engaging literary protagonists as they move from isolation into family and community, and Alexandra and her friends ably continue this tradition. With them and obviously dear to the author’s heart is the feathered and informative Taco, whose oration gives companionship to Alexandra while providing key history and data points. Animals in stories sometimes upstage their human counterparts; here, Taco’s role is balanced and original.

Set in a distant Maine harbor town, the story has a decidedly gothic feel and likewise brings to mind the novelist Stephen King, whose fiction is famously set in and around Maine. At just over 500 pages, this is no quick read, especially for a child. However, the pacing works well, and the investment in characters and outcome builds in a genuine way that older kids may enjoy.

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