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The New Policeman

by Kate Thompson

Published by U.S. edition: Greenwillow / HarperCollins, 2007
441 pages
ISBN: 9780061174278

Ages 11-15

Where does the time go? The age-old question has a definitive answer in this smart, absorbing, and highly entertaining novel from Irish writer Kate Thompson. Fifteen-year-old J.J. Liddy is more pressed for time than he can ever remember. But J.J.’s feeling pressured in other ways, too. He is one in a long line of talented musicians committed to keeping the traditions of Irish music alive, but sometimes he’d just like to go clubbing like other kids his age. J.J.’s passionate mother is the driving force in his family, and he is determined to give her the thing she wants most for her birthday—more time. J.J.’s neighbor Anne is buoyed by his determination and realizes J.J. may be the answer to a problem more dangerous than anyone in the world has realized. Anne knows where time is going—that it is literally disappearing--but she doesn’t know why, or how to stop it. “You really believe anything is possible?” she asks him. Somewhere, she explains, there is a leak between the human world and Tír na n’Óg, the land of eternal youth. Time is slipping away from one--leaving everyone stressed and scrambling to get things done--and into the other, so that the place that was once eternal afternoon is now slipping slowly into darkness. Anne leads an alarmed and astonished J.J. to a chamber beneath an ancient mound and through the membrane between the worlds. In Tír na n’Óg, J.J. scrambles to understand the place and the people, including figures from Irish lore, while searching for the leak with Aengus, the man who becomes his self-appointed guide. In the meantime, back in the human world, realization that J.J. has disappeared sinks in. As time passes so, too, does hope that he will ever be found or return, although his case is strangely compelling to the newest member of the local police force. Thompson’s intriguing, singular story features a host of appealing, well-developed characters; a fascinating plot that moves back and forth between the two worlds and alludes to multiple mysteries within and between them; and superb pacing, with short, tightly wound chapters that reflect the importance and impact of time in the story. It also features music—captivating, pulsing, lilting descriptions of traditional Irish music being played, and actual sheet music that forms bridges between the chapters, with each piece carefully chosen to reflect what is happening in the story. Many of these are traditional Irish pieces, while several are original songs composed by author. (MS) ©2007 Cooperative Children’s Book Center

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