cover image Traveling Backward

Traveling Backward

Toby Forward. Tambourine Books, $15 (123pp) ISBN 978-0-688-13076-3

Fanny can hardly bear the idea that her grandfather is dying, and she escapes from the appalling aunts and uncles clustered at his deathbed in order to visit her inscrutable neighbor Mrs. May. Sympathetic to Fanny's distress, Mrs. May hands Fanny a potion for Grandfather, prescribing one small glass every day ``until he's better,'' and not one drop more. Grandfather regains his vigor and treats Fanny to some rollicking adventures, but he keeps drinking from Mrs. May's bottle, which never empties. He gets younger and younger, until Fanny is forced to reconsider her wish to keep him around ``forever.'' This British import invites obvious comparisons with Natalie Babbitt's Tuck Everlasting , as it, too, explores the idea of tampering with the natural cycle of life; however, Forward's tale is far less complex. The tone, meanwhile, recalls that of Roald Dahl. But this fantasy does exercise a charm of its own. Fanny is both sensible and likable, and her affection for her grandfather comes across as genuine. Though Grandfather dies in the end, the reprieve that he and Fanny enjoy makes his departure more comprehensible and acceptable, for Fanny as well as for the reader. Illustrations not seen by PW. Ages 8-up. (Aug.)