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Departure Time Paperback – May 15, 2010


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: namelos (May 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 160898009X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608980093
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,367,739 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 5-8–A 10-year-old girl is lost in a surrealistic landscape–a red-earth desert threatened by an approaching storm. Nothing looks familiar. She can't remember how she got to this place. Alternating with this classic bad-dream setting, which is narrated in the third person, is a first-person, furious tirade by a girl who feels abandoned by her father and neglected by her mother. Readers will be intrigued by the way Matti interweaves these stories and tantalizes with the possible connections between them. At first, the novel is like a puzzle mystery, but as it begins to make more and more sense, readers recognize that the stories are one story about anger and forgiveness, loss and grief, and consolation. Matti takes readers on an enigmatic journey through a landscape that encompasses the profundities of life and death and of love that transcends all boundaries. Remarkable and arresting and wholly original, this novel lingers in the mind long after the last page has been read.Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Fantasy and realism blend in this debut novel, translated from the Dutch, about a young girl trying to come to terms with her beloved father's sudden death. In the first chapter, a girl named Mouse finds herself in a hotel, where a capable, talking fox and rat show her around. Then the novel switches to the realistic, present-tense, first-person drama of a girl grieving for her musician father, who died while on a concert trip. Is his death her fault? Was he upset by her furious letter that raged at him for not making it back home in time for her 11th birthday? Even fantasy fans will find the animal plotline too long and repetitive. But the bereavement story is riveting, not only the universals of sadness, guilt, and anger, but also the secrets that are revealed, especially when the girl finds the tender, funny letters that her father wrote to her that talk about the games they shared. Grades 5-8. --Hazel Rochman --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

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Naturally what I really liked about this book were the mystery elements.
E. R. Bird
It requires a certain acceptance that things, strange though they are, will makes sense.
Jim Forest
An inventive, beautiful and meticulously crafted story of love, loss, and imagination.
Dave Jones

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on October 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Translated children's novels have a tough row to hoe. In my experience as a children's librarian I'll often find that folks react to them in a variety of different ways. Sometimes they like them, but often they'll dislike the books and then fail to express what it is about the book they don't like. Often it all breaks down into feelings. I've had people tell me that they found "The Swan's Child" by Sjoerd Kuyper "special", though they couldn't pinpoint why. Others have said that "The Squirrel's Birthday and Other Parties" by Toon Tellegen just wasn't their cup of tea. I find this reaction to translated works frustrating but there's little that I can do about it. I mean, you can't contest a reader's gut reaction, right? So it is with the deepest pleasure that I discovered "Departure Time" by Truus Matti. Part mystery, part fantasy, part philosophy (I keep comparing it in my head to "Sophie's World", but in a good way), I guarantee that once you start reading you may never feel inclined to stop. This is a book for the smart kids.

Two girls. The same girls? Impossible to say. When the book opens there are two competing narratives, and which one should you trust? Story #1 is about a nameless girl. She can remember nothing of her past and has no idea why she is struggling through a desert with only a bag full of music books by her side. Soon she finds a dilapidated hotel in the distance and upon entering is met by a gray fox and a large white rat.
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By Austin on September 23, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had to read this for school i cannot say that i enjoyed any of it. It was very hard to get into and that why it's only getting 1 star!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm a sucker for surprise endings. Not necessarily straight-forward mysteries (although I do love those too), but novels that sneak up and surprise you in the end. Novels where you assume one thing is going on and in the end, something entirely different is revealed. Stories like WALK TWO MOONS (although maybe that surprise can be seen a mile away) and WHEN YOU REACH ME (didn't see that one coming). So when DEPARTURE TIME was recommended to me from someone who knows their stuff, I undoubtedly had high hopes.

DEPARTURE TIME is a novel telling two stories, alternating from chapter to chapter. In one story, a girl wakes up alone in an abandoned hotel in a desert, with no knowledge of how she has arrived. Her only company is a talking rat and a talking fox who serve as host and maintenance for the hotel. Familiar music is playing in the background and torn paper litters the landscape. Who is this girl? Who are these talking animals? Why do they recognize her? Where is the music coming from? Who exactly is hiding out in the attic of the hotel?

The other story is about a girl who is angry with her father, a traveling musician, for missing her birthday again. She writes him a scathing letter, letting out all her frustration, and sends it to him not long before he dies in a horrific boat accident. Later she receives a rough draft story from him in the mail, a story he wanted to write together with her. A story about talking animals.

What do these two girls have in common? Are they one in the same?

This book reminded me of I AM THE CHEESE by Robert Cormier with equal parts WHEN YOU REACH ME by Rebecca Stead tossed in for good measure. It's an engaging, challenging read, cleverly and ambitiously crafted.
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By Dave Jones on January 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
An inventive, beautiful and meticulously crafted story of love, loss, and imagination. A little patience is required in the beginning, but the effort is richly rewarded. Should appeal to those who loved The Book Thief. Ages 12+
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jim Forest on November 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Two very positive reviews of Departure Time....

Kirkus Reviews

[...]

(a starred review)

Departure Time
by Truus Matti / translator: Nancy Forest-Flier
publisher: namelos / pages: 214
hardcover: $18.95 / paperback: $9.95
ISBN (hardcover): 978-1-60898-087-1 / ISBN (paperback): 978-1-60898-009-3

In this debut novel, two seemingly unrelated stories merge into a poignant journey from anger to acceptance. In one story, a girl arrives at a derelict hotel operated by a fox and a rat. Unable to remember anything, she hears familiar piano music and discovers torn pieces of paper. In the second story, a father promises his daughter, Mouse, he'll be home for her 11th birthday. When he can't be there, Mouse writes a letter saying he's a lousy father, not realizing she'll never see him again. Since his death, Mouse has tried to forget her father and the angry letter, but she can't keep it up much longer. Matti alternates between the third-person story of the girl in the hotel gradually piecing bits of paper and her life together with Mouse's touching first-person memories of her father, who coincidentally had written her a story about a fox, a rat, a girl and a strange hotel. Initially perplexing and surreal, the narrative's juxtaposition of fantasy and reality eventually blends beautifully in the convincing conclusion. (Fiction. 10 & up)

* * *

Charlotte's Library / 27 November 2010

[...]

Departure Time
by Truus Matti, translated from the Dutch by Nancy Forest-Flier
(Namelos, 2010, middle grade, 216 pages).

The girl finds herself alone on a plain of red sand. She can't remember who she is, or how she got there, but a storm is coming, so she looks for shelter.
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