Friday, March 28, 2014

Rewind To Yesterday (1988) by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Rewind To Yesterday is one of those books which can probably never be reprinted due to the sheer timeliness of it. Just look at that font on the cover for starters. Likely inspired by the popularity of the Back To the Future movies, three kids are transported back in time by the family's new VCR. Yes, the VCR.
Adventurous Kelly is the first to discover this quirk in the machine. Unable to sleep one night, she decides to fiddle around with the new VCR and finds out that holding down the rewind button without a tape inside will send you back in time up to 24 hours. Kelly feels a huge responsibility to science and humanity after making her discovery, and after a test run (she time travels to the school cafeteria), she enlists the help of her more cautious best friend Miri.
Miri is totally unbelieving at first (as she should be), but her own time travel experience convinces her. Kelly's twin brother Scott is spying on the girls as Miri dematerializes to a few hours in the past and wants in on the action too.  
Scott brings new ideas to the table on how to handle the situation, not in a boys-are-than-girls way because Kelly is portrayed as having quite the scientific mind, but just because two heads are better than one. The more down to earth Miri mainly just whines and suggests telling an adult. The only grown up the trio can see telling at this point is Miri's grandfather, a kind old man who runs a novelty store.
Scott thinks they should try to sell the VCR to the Pentagon, and has a strange conversation with his father to gage his reaction in which the latter claims, without knowing about the time travel element, that he wouldn't sell the VCR for a million dollars and gets angry that Scott should think otherwise. The dad comes off a little weird at times. Scott breaks a dish and is sent to his room for cursing. He takes his first time travel trip trying to fix things but only makes the situation worse.
The point of view switches from Kelly to Scott to Miri as she finally convinces them to let her tell Pop about the VCR. Pop is a hardworking man who thinks computers and other technology becoming more apart of everyday life might not be such a bad thing. However open-minded he might be, though, Pop is understandably skeptical about the time travel story. On the way home from a baseball game while thinking how she's had enough of the VCR and wants nothing more to do with it, Miri notices police outside Pop's store and learns he has been shot during a robbery attempt. It's up to Miri to go back in time and save her grandfather's life.
This is a fun story to read for an adult old enough to remember when VCRs were new and seemed almost magical. I always liked books that dealt with time travel, and thanks to Back To the Future, there were no shortage of them during this era. I don't know if many of today's kids would be interested in a book so firmly rooted in the 80's, however.

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