There is an old-fashioned, elegant cafe on top of a steep hill in Montmartre, Paris. In this cafe, named THE CAFE OF LOST TIME, is a remarkable invention ~ a time-travel machine, disguised as an espresso machine.
This cafe, as well as this amazing machine, is run by Monsieur Moutarde. Only he and his mysterious good friend, Madame Pamplemousse, (and Madame's one-eyed cat, Camembert), know about the time-travel machine.
Now, Madame Pamplemousse has another good friend, a young girl named Madeleine who is a very talented cook. One morning, an elaborately-dressed blonde woman appears on Madeleine's doorstep. A representative of the government. An ill-intentioned representative of the evil government which is bent on demolishing all historical buildings, art museums and quaint restaurants. She threatens to throw Madeleine into a juvenile detention centre unless she gives up the current whereabouts of Madame Pamplemousse.
The frightened child escapes to the Cafe of Lost Time for help. However, she isn't sure why Monsieur Moutarde chooses to make her coffee at this moment of throbbing urgency instead.
When he came back he was carrying a tray. On the tray were three items: a small cup of coffee, a red Thermos flask and what appeared to be a firework.
He pointed to the cup of coffee.
'In a moment you must drink that and drink it straight down. And as you are drinking, you must keep a tight hold of both the firework and the Thermos flask. You must not release them from your grasp -- that is absolutely vital! For as soon as you have drunk the coffee, strange things will start to happen. All of this will vanish.'
He waved a hand about the room.
The city of Paris is on the brink of destruction. Madeleine's well-being is under imminent threat, and so is Madame Pamplemousse's. Can the coffee lead her to her friend so that she can warn her about the oncoming danger?
Can the coffee lead her somewhere safe?
Or will it send her into hungrier mouths of danger?
When I read the jacket blurb, I thought it was the most brilliant idea to use an espresso coffee machine as a time travel machine. The portafilters. The dials. The levers. The wand with steam hissing from it. Of course it makes more than coffee. It makes wizardry. It makes the impossible. A chapter book for those who enjoy Paris, coffee and wild adventures.
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"He was floating, then falling, then turning, all in a confusion of sights, sounds and smells. Here was a shiny brass engine, which disintegrated into a thousand flickering candles as soon as his eyes lit upon it. Here, a painted horse's mouth, which opened and whinnied, metamorphosing into the gaping jaws of a hungry wolf ... He fell and turned, accompanied by the distant murmuring of well-spoken young men somewhere far away in time."
Billy Blake, a twelve-year-old of the 21st century, went on a steam carousel at a Christmas market and got whirled back to 1957. That was when he met Grandpop.
Grandpop, who had died before Billy was born.
Technically, the grandfather Billy hadn't got a chance to meet.
Until he travelled back to 1962 in his previous adventure (The Bother in Burmeon) and now farther back to 1957 (Trouble in Teutonia).
Right now (1957), it was the middle of the Cold War, and Grandpop was Flight Lieutenant Walker at the RAF Ratshausen, working under a suspicious Commanding Officer, Featherstonehaugh. The thing was, from his previous 1962 adventure, Billy already knew Featherstonehaugh was someone they couldn't trust. Yet he was not able to explain this to Grandpop. (Try telling someone you're his grandson from 60 years later who has already met you about few years from now except it was some time ago. Say ... what?)
To make matters worse, surrounding them were layer after layer of mystery:
the kidnap of the daughter of US space scientists (why abduct her?);
the disappearance of a prototype jet fighter (who did this and what for?);
a wolfish creature haunting the forest (what was it?);
and a chilling Count with his ghostly castle (who was he and what was his relationship with Featherstonehaugh and what were they planning exactly?).
I won a copy of this book from Barbara's blog (March House Books) and am so pleased to discover another writer whose work I've enjoyed. Sure, we've all read stories about time and space travelling, but one about a kid going back to meet the grandpop he would never get to meet is quite special. The author, Susan P. Moss, has threaded the aspects of this adventure well and I particularly enjoy her sensory descriptions. I only wish there were more moments of Billy with Grandpop (and there is still one strand of the story I'm curious about ... maybe Susan is leaving that for another time)! Overall, it has been a thoroughly engaging story set in a fascinating time when things were evolving, when there were selfish dreams and heroic saves, when the past and the future crossed and merged, and when the old and the young had a precious chance to meet.
Have you read Susan's works? If time-travel adventures are your kind of read, check out Trouble in Teutonia soon!
Read any nice time-travel tales lately?
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by Kate Hanney
Really enjoyed the honest voice of this narrator ~ a teenager let down by his mother and the foster care system, and almost-picked up through his involvement with a gang.