cover image London Calling

London Calling

Edward Bloor, . . Knopf, $16.95 (289pp) ISBN 978-0-375-83635-0

Bloor (Story Time ; Tangerine ) continues to demonstrate his range, this time mixing historical fiction with time travel in a poignant adventure story about fathers and sons. Martin Conway is a troubled scholarship student at a private Catholic school where his mother works. He has a run-in with Henry M. Lowery IV, whose family has established a million-dollar trust fund at the school in memory of their patriarch, a WWII hero. Martin exiles himself to a bedroom in the basement, first outfitted for his manic-depressive Uncle Bob as "a place of shame," and then used by his alcoholic father (before he left home). Oddly, Martin's life is reinvigorated when his grandmother dies, bequeathing to him an old Philco radio. One night, the radio magically transports him to 1940 London during the Blitz, and into the company of a boy named Jimmy, who insists he needs Martin's help with something very important. It's at this point (roughly a third of the way into the novel) that the narrative takes off, too, as Bloor deftly evokes the terror of wartime, weaving in interesting threads about U.S. diplomatic history (and allowing readers to witness for themselves the true nature of General Lowery's character). During a series of visits, Martin figures out not only how to answer the question Jimmy says everyone is asked when they die—"What did you do to help? "—but the answers to many of his own questions as well. Have tissues on hand for the final pages. Ages 10-up. (Sept.)