Time, Turtles

9781938073144

All the time that isn’t felt by the heart is as lost as a rainbow to a blind man or a birdsong to a deaf one. Unfortunately, there are many deaf and blind hearts that don’t feel anything, even though they continue to beat.

In a quiet, quaint town, little orphan Momo lives in the ruins of an amphitheater and spends most of her time playing with the other children. She has a particular, seemingly magical gift: She listens really, really well. She patiently hears all that is said and unsaid, revealing the truth beneath everyone’s miscommunications or rash outbursts. For this reason she is often turned to by village inhabitants as a confidant and mediator. Though Momo lives in poverty, she is rich in friends, who make sure she is taken care of. Her closest friends are Guido the Guide, a tour guide whose gift is in telling wholly absorbing stories; and Beppo Streetsweeper, who truly understands the meaning of enjoying the present moment. But something dark is afoot, as townspeople, and even Momo’s closest friends, are entrapped by the Men in Grey, who essentially hypnotize people into “saving time.” The truth is that these Grey men are stealing people’s time, leaving them in a frustrated, frenzied loop of trying to save more and more time as more and more slips away from them. Sound familiar?

Momo might have been written 43 ago, but the truths it reveals about the way in which we value time and busyness resonates just as clearly in 2016, if not more, than it did in 1973. It’s as if the Men in Grey have triumphed over us all, as we urge our world to move faster; keep us busy and occupied. To open Momo is to pause and listen (as deeply as Momo does) to another way–the way of patience, play, and process. The gorgeously-wrought story begs the question, “How do you want to spend your time?” Zwirner’s translation of Ende’s classic tale is rich with magic, humor, and a fresh lyrical quality that is perfectly complimented by Dzama’s elegantly simple illustrations. This book will appeal to any reader who enjoys walking the fine line between fantasy and reality–especially those who love Astrid Lindgren, Ottfried Preussler, and Ende’s The Neverending Story.

Favorite Character: Cassiopeia, a turtle who communicates with Momo via words on her shell and can see precisely a half-hour into the future. Yes, really.

Ages 11 & up.

Available now; paperback edition will be available in August from McSweeney’s!

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