A fun mix of history and fantasy for middle grade readers: ‘The World Between Blinks’ by Amie Kaufman & Ryan Graudin
February 15, 2021
Amie Kaufman is a much-loved writer of fantasy and adventure for middle grade and young adult readers. She has teamed up with another best-selling author, Ryan Graudin, for a new middle grade series, of which The World Between Blinks is Book One.
First of all, this is such a cool title reflecting an equally cool premise: that there is another world that exists in parallel with our own, that some people (especially youngsters) can occasionally get a fleeting glimpse or sense of it – in between blinks.
The book lives up to its promise of terrific world-building by the authors, some adventure, a treasure map and lots of magic, and engaging characters, especially the two protagonists, cousins Jake and Marisol, who arrive in the world by accident and must find the one person who can help them return home.
Being a history nut, I especially enjoyed the way the story is peppered with figures and events from the past. The World between Blinks is the place where lost things are found, so the cousins come across many ‘lost’ people and things: aviatrix Amelia Earhart; former Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt; a thylacine (the extinct Tasmanian Tiger); brown M&M’s; London’s Crystal Palace; a Viking; the Ninth Roman Legion are just some examples.
My feeling is that this would be a great springboard for some ferreting in a library or the internet by youngsters keen to discover who and what and when and why. I confess to doing a bit of ‘Googling’ of some of the references with which I was less familiar.
The historical gems are dropped in with humour and a light touch and they add much to the story.
At a deeper level, The World between Blinks explores memories, what it means to leave friends and places behind, and what makes family special.
But what Marisol was really trying to hold on to was her family’s togetherness, and you couldn’t keep that in your hand any more than you could catch a puff of smoke…You couldn’t use a particular thing or a certain place to make your life just the way you wanted. But you could hold onto love… You could hold onto the things that made you you.
The World Between Blinks p255
An added bonus is the way in which so many cross cultural references are included, including American, Australian, Bolivian. Marisol and her parents speak both Spanish and English so Spanish expressions are effortlessly woven into the dialogue without losing the meaning and flow of the narrative.
The World Between Blinks is a wonderful beginning to a new middle grade fantasy series. It will be enjoyed by readers who like adventure, magic, and a little history, all rolled into a satisfying package.
The World Between Blinks is published by HarperCollins Children’s Books in February 2021. My thanks to the publishers for a review copy.