Countdown to Yesterday


James is torn between his mother and his father. It seems as though he’s having to keep both of them happy, while each find their feet, separate from each other. It seems that James is used to moving a lot. Hasn’t his trundle bed borne the scars of these moves? Then again, can’t the situation be resolved, or is James destined to see Tiger and his David Bowie poster only when Dad and Mum agree? Or is there a possibility through Yan?

While James find a haven over lunchtimes, helping Mrs Tagliatelle in the office, it seems Yan seeks out the library. However, Yan has a mission. It’s beyond the time travelling machine that she says she’s created. Is it possible that James can return to a happy past, the one he remembers he and his mother and father shared together? Is it possible to ignite a Countdown to Yesterday?

It’s not only my happy memories of browsing the wonderful cakes in the Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake book that compels me toward this title. There is such nuanced kindness, aching sadness, wisdom and hope within Countdown to Yesterday. Altogether it means that Bookwagon recommends this title to really emotionally aware middle grade and older readers. What a beautiful, knowing title.

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Countdown to Yesterday

Shirley Marr


James wants to begin a Countdown to Yesterday, to use Yan’s time machine to ‘live inside a memory‘. However, Yan warns James, ‘What if your memories aren’t what they think they are? What if you only remembered the good bits and blocked out the bad bits?
James lingers over the good bits. After all, he’s existing between Mum and Dad’s houses. It seems that Mum’s is tiny, with borrowed and garden furniture. Meanwhile, Dad’s at home, but not home as Jamie knows it. After all, Dad’s erected a man cave. It seems he’s wanting to repair Grandad’s motorbike. Then there’s Tiger. Don’t Mum or Dad realise James’ pain? It seems that when he’s in the haven of Mrs Tagliatelle’s office, checking spelling and punctuation and recording entries for the cake competition. It’s a long held and highly competitive event with a selection from the Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book.
Bookwagon loves Shirley Marr’s award winning novels, including All Four Quarters of the Moon. Therefore, we had high hopes of Countdown to Yesterday which have been met- and exceeds. Countdown to Yesterday is a magnificent, meaningful and warmly wonderful book that we recommend highly.


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