Cover image for The golden hour
The golden hour
Williams, Maiya.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Harry N. Abrams, [2004]

Physical Description:
259 pages ; 20 cm
Thirteen-year-old Rowan and his eleven-year-old sister Nina, still bereft by the death of their mother the year before, experience an unusual adventure through time when they come to stay with their two eccentric great-aunts in a small town on the Maine coast.
Reading Level:
740 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.1 9.0 78203.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 6.3 15 Quiz: 36560 Guided reading level: W.
Format :


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X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Thirteen-year-old Rowan and his eleven-year-old sister Nina, still bereft by the death of their mother the year before, experience an unusual adventure through time when they come to stay with their two eccentric great-aunts in a small town on the Maine coast.

Author Notes

Maiya Williams was born in Corvallis, Oregon, and grew up in New Haven, Connecticut, and Berkeley, California. She attended Harvard University, where she was an editor and vice president of the Harvard Lampoon. She is currently a writer and producer of television shows and lives with her husband, three children, a Labrador retriever, and a variety of fish in Pacific Palisades

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 4-8. A year after their mother's death, their father sends Rowan and Nina to family friends in Maine. Soon the children befriend twins Xanthe and Xavier, and together they explore the Owatannauk, an abandoned resort hotel that is actually a time-travel portal. When Nina disappears one morning, the others follow her to Paris at the height of the French Revolution. Rowan poses as a courtier, while Xanthe and Xavier, allowing for the fact that there weren't that many black people in Revolutionary France, take on the roles of artist and freed slave. Part realistic fiction, part fantasy, part historical adventure, this entertaining novel features several well-realized settings and some quirky, original characters. The story is particularly energized by Rowan's intelligent, wry observations: Rowan notes his mother's death was the background noise of his life, like a radio you couldn't turn off. Although parts of the adventure in eighteenth-century France strain belief, the emotions and relationships at the heart of the story are solid and convincing. One of the few fantasies with any African American characters, this takes readers on an adventure that makes everyday phenomena seem a little more magical. --Carolyn Phelan Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Mad TV writer Williams makes her children's book debut with this entertaining novel about a pair of siblings who go back in time. Thirteen-year-old Rowan and 11-year-old Nina have been sent to stay with their eccentric great-aunts in Maine after their mother is killed by a drunk driver. The elderly sisters run a small curiosity shop, stocked to the hilt with unusual items; among them, Nina (a prodigy pianist) discovers an original Beethoven composition that the world has never seen. Soon Rowan and Nina befriend twins, a boy and girl who introduce them to the town's old hotel. Rowan's great-aunt warns him away from the place, citing strange occurrences and referring to the hotel as a "portal." Of course, the four young people enter the hotel (which is accessible only during "the golden hour" just before sunset and "the silver hour" at sunrise) and come upon the "alleviator," an elevator of sorts that will transport them to any year and locale they choose-but only for seven days. When Nina turns up missing, Rowan suspects her destination and soon the other three are on their way to Paris in 1789. The plot grows rather murky as the children take different places within French society just before Bastille Day. But readers may well enjoy the spirited adventure that follows, culminating in a predictable but touching finale (involving Nina and her mother). Action-packed and laden with good-natured humor, Williams's tale is a journey worth taking. Ages 9-14. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-Thirteen-year-old Rowan and 11-year-old Nina Popplewell are sent to visit their eccentric aunts in Maine one summer shortly after the death of their mother in this fantasy novel by Maiya Williams (Amulet Books, 2004). Nina has been mute since the death and Rowan's timidity has increased. They meet argumentative twins Xanthe and Xavier at the beach one day. They are guided by the aunts into investigating the ruins of a once active hotel from where it is possible to time travel during the golden hour before nightfall. Piano prodigy Nina sneaks off and travels to an unknown place. Due to her love of Mozart, Rowan and the twins believe she must have gone to 18th century France and travel there, landing right in the middle of the French Revolution. Facing much peril and nearly losing their lives in their travels through France, the kids ultimately realize that Nina didn't travel to that time period. Rowan, who has become braver during their adventures, thinks that Nina might have gone back to a time when things were happy, so he time-travels alone to 1990. The fact that the children are all African American is a refreshing change in the fantasy genre. Narrator Kevin R. Free does an excellent job with the different characters. In the beginning, Rowan sounds appropriately depressed, but his voice changes as he gains confidence. The nasty prudery of Robespierre and arrogance of Danton are amusingly if chillingly conveyed. Pacing is excellent. The combination of an exciting story and a very talented narrator make for an involving listening experience.-B. Allison Gray, John Jermain Memorial Library, Sag Harbor, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Two Strange Auntsp. 1
Chapter 2 Xanthe and Xavierp. 25
Chapter 3 The Owatannaukp. 51
Chapter 4 The Twilight Touristsp. 81
Chapter 5 The Marquis d'Orangep. 104
Chapter 6 Versaillesp. 121
Chapter 7 The Queenp. 141
Chapter 8 The Other Sidep. 157
Chapter 9 Bastille Dayp. 177
Chapter 10 Masqueradep. 184
Chapter 11 Prisonp. 209
Chapter 12 The Element of Surprisep. 227
Chapter 13 Truthp. 243
Epiloguep. 253
A Historical Note to the Readerp. 256
Acknowledgmentsp. 258