The Time-Traveling Fashionista by Bianca Turetsky
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Genre: middle-school fiction, paranormal
Book 1 of a new series
On my TBR list? No
Louise Lambert is a 12-year-old girl with a thing for vintage. She loves old movies and all the fashion and glamour that go with them, and her life seems dull in comparison. Then one day she receives an invitation to a vintage fashion sale that starts her on an adventure that transcends time.
The one persistent thought I had while reading The Time-Traveling Fashionista was that if it had been published about 10 years ago, my daughters would have moved on to this after reading The Magic Tree House series. Although the blurb on the back of the book makes it sound like a juicy YA novel -- "Louise relishes the glamour of this opulent age and slips into a life of secrets, drama, and decadence" -- it is much more innocent than that. After all, our heroine is only 12, a fact that I missed because I skipped the blurb on the inside flap and only read the back. There were three separate incidences where people have to be reminded not to offer her alcohol, so it definitely isn't in the vein of other YA books where sex and drugs are front and center.
I think the author did a smart thing by including full-color illustrations of many of the dresses mentioned in the story. My kids appreciated picture books even when they were in middle school, and all four of them are fans of graphic novels now. The pictures in the book were done not just by an artist but a proper fashion illustrator (Sandra Suy). It gave me the feeling that the author and the artist both really understood fashion.
The only quibble I have with this book is the depiction of Louise's modern life. The author makes her existence as a middle-school student seem so drab that it isn't quite believable to me when she says she wants to go back to it. I haven't seen a summary of the second book's plot, but I am hoping that Turetsky sticks with Louise and shows the reader more of what she enjoys about her modern life.
There is a trend of adult readers picking up YA books, but I think that some books are strictly for kids. The Time-Traveling Fashionista falls into that category for me. The tone reminds me of PBS shows my kids used to watch like Wishbone and The Time Warp Trio -- supernatural adventure with a history lesson thrown in. This is the book you hand to the quirky young girl in your life who enjoys black-and-white movies and shopping at thrift stores. Don't be surprised if you see her doing a little fashion research at the computer after reading it.