By Rosemary Wells
Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
$16.99, ages 10 and up, 336 pages
Trouble comes to everyone, Oscar's dad suggests just before the Wall Street Crash of 1929. Like the whistle of a train or the voice of wolf, you can't help but hear it coming.
But suppose 11-year-old Oscar could go back and stop trouble before it ever happened?
In this wondrous book by award-winning Wells, Oscar loses everything he holds dear, but discovers just in time that if he longs for things hard enough, he might find a way to get them back.
Blending the magic of Lionel trains with theories of time travel, Wells tells the remarkable journey of a boy who gets separated from his father and nearly loses his life before finding his own happy ending on a model train.
Bagram Ibatoulline's paintings envelop you like a Norman Rockwell print and even though Oscar's world is filled with unpleasantness, glimpses of hope always come through in the pictures.
Two years into the stock market disaster, the bottom falls out of Oscar's peaceful life in Cairo, Illinois. Not since his mother died in a fireworks plant explosion when he was 3 years old has Oscar felt his insides burn with so much fear and anger.
In one summer, his dad loses his job selling tractors, the bank repossesses their house and and bank president Mr. Pettishanks buys out their cherished Lionel trains, including Oscar's 11th birthday gift, the queen of all trains, the Blue Comet.