While other kids spend their summer vacations at the pool, Penelope must follow a rigorous daily schedule set out by her mother. She needs to study and achieve in order to get into a great college and become a successful adult. She may only be in middle school, but time is precious and must not be wasted. So instead of spending her time writing and coming up with story ideas so she can be a writer, Penelope follows schedules laid out by her mother until one day she falls through her schedule into The Realm of Possibility.

In this land, Penelope meets Dill, an eccentric, Willy Wonka-esque man who tells her about the woes the Realm of Possibility is facing. The Great Moodler who once came up with fabulous ideas for the people of the Realm to think about and play around with has gone into hiding. Chronos usurped power over the Realm and made the land and the people in it adhere to strict time tables. Now “moodling” (imagining and thinking up ideas) is considered a waste of time and the people of this land have become Clockworkers, drones who work around the clock. Now Penelope must find her way home on top of ridding the land of the time crunched Chronos.

I read this book at a leisurely pace (Chronos would be displeased with the amount of time I spent on it), and found it to be a delightful ode to imagination and a look at how to manage time, or how not to manage time. The book has a lot in common with The Phantom Tollbooth which Paige Britt, the author, hails as one of the inspirations for her writing. Through wit and word play, Britt shows children that imagination, creativity, and some “me” time are essential for growth and stability. I can imagine children giggling at the “Wild Bore” who is a small man who will literally bore you to death unless you can get a word in edgewise. Violet colored illustrations scattered throughout the text add another whimsical touch and help populate this world. The characters are dynamic and the author makes places, people, and things based off of wordplay.

This is a book for advanced readers in elementary school and is meant for ages 8-12. It has already received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly. For anyone who loved The Phantom Tollbooth, A Series of Unfortunate Events, or The Wizard of Oz this book is an easy addition to your bookshelf.

The Lost Track of Time comes out March 31st but you can purchase it today in Marketplace so users can start placing holds.


Kristin Milks is a Collection Development Analyst with OverDrive