An engrossing adventure through time and whānau, Ruby Bartlett
May 2, 2022
“I wish I could travel back through time”, Mum said, reaching to touch the pounamu she wore around her neck.” POP – she was gone with a flash of light leaving behind her pounamu necklace and a very big mystery!
Lauren Keenan takes us on an amazing time travelling journey in her book Amorangi and Millie’s Trip Through Time. The story follows siblings, brother Amorangi and younger sister Millie as they frantically travel back through time working their way down the branches on their family tree. They have one goal in mind: to find their mum who is lost in time and bring her home. The carved writing “A and M, I’m in the past. Find me.” scratched into an ever-present rimu tree let the time travellers know they are in the correct place and that their mum is still waiting.
“Finally, ‘she said. ‘I’ve been waiting all morning for you. I was wondering when you two would turn up.’ Amorangi and Millie stared. ‘In fact, I haven’t just waited all morning,’ the old lady continued. ‘I come here every year on this day, hoping you’ll come.”
Amorangi and Millie are shocked to come across someone in the past who has been expecting them and who seems so familiar. The old lady gives them the crucial information that they have just one day to search time for their mum. She tells them to work backwards through their family tree, one branch at a time collecting something from an ancestor at each place.
We travel with Amorangi and Millie as they bounce around time, along the way they see their family home change and expand, their town grow and the land surrounding it all grow and develop. The siblings meet some very unexpected ancestors and as the day starts to wind down their search becomes panicked as they realise they may not have enough time, they risk losing their mum as well as someone else very important! You’ll need to read the book to discover the very surprising twists!
Keenan’s writing style is slower paced at the beginning of the story but as the characters develop and we learn more about their mission, the pace quickens and we want to find out what will happen. Throughout the story we encounter lots of historical New Zealand events, creatures and environments. The hokioi, commonly known as the Haast Eagle, the eruption of Mount Taranaki, Parihaka, beating of children for speaking Māori in school and the growth of mighty trees from saplings are just some of the ways Keenan marks the passing of time as the siblings adventure through their family tree.
I think Amorangi and Millie’s Trip Through Time is a wonderful, engrossing Kiwi tale that cleverly traces New Zealand’s history while focusing on the importance of whānau. The story is an enjoyable, quick read that entertains and is accessible to most readers in the YA reading group. I was totally invested in the story and found myself wanting to talk to others about what was happening in it. The characters are likeable and relatable, and most of us know kids like Amorangi and Millie.
I definitely recommend this book, if you love adventure and New Zealand then this book is for you.
4.5 out of 5 stars