By Amy Herrick
Available now from Algonquin Young Readers (Workman)
Amy Herrick's middle grade debut involves many classic elements, twisted around to something new. Classmates Edward, Feenix, Danton, and Brigit barely know each other. Edward doesn't like action and prefers to keep to himself. Feenix is head mean girl. Danton is sporty. Brigit doesn't speak. But it's up to them to save the world, because they all touched the Fetch.
The Fetch is full of Foragers, who take time from our world. Since Edward picked it up, thinking it was just a pretty rock, the normal process was interrupted and the Foragers are stealing time at an accelerated pace. Luckily Edward's New Age-y aunt turns out to be less daffy and more full of good advice.
I liked that Herrick took a particular risk with Feenix. I would say that she gets the most focus of the four teenagers, and she's the least sympathetic. She wants adventure, which is understandable; however, she doesn't really comprehend that the way she acts doesn't just provoke people, but also wounds them. Her empathy is sorely lacking. But almost all of the main characters need to grow and learn to connect to others and be confident in themselves. Danton has perhaps the least need to change, which is probably why he's in the story the least.
I also liked that THE TIME FETCH combined science and magic. No, nothing happening around the Fetch is related to science. But the kids' science teacher is one of the most important adults, and his lectures are relevant to what's happening. And Edward's aunt might be basing more of her knowledge on the explainable than he knows.
THE TIME FETCH is a quick, fun adventure that throws a lot into the melting pot for something that feels familiar but still magical. This is great reading for children who like fantasy.