The Accidental Time Traveler by Janis Mackay


This story grew on me with each passing chapter. Saul is a likable, flawed kid who ultimately wants to do the right thing–send Agatha back to her life in 1813. Agatha is gutsy and kind and an inspiration to Saul and his scaredy-cat friends.

Publisher’s description:                

Saul is on his way to the corner shop on a seemingly ordinary day, when a girl appears suddenly in the middle of the road. She does not understand traffic or the things she sees in shops, and she’s wearing a long dress with ruffled sleeves. Her name is Agatha Black.

Agatha Black is from 1813, and Saul needs to find a way to get her back to her time. With help from his buddies Will and Robbie, he tries to figure out how to make time travel happen.

This face-paced, time-traveling adventure from Janis Mackay (author of the Magnus Fin books) is full of funny misunderstandings and gripping action.

Hand this book to the kid who:

* likes reading about time travel–you might pair this with Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me

* enjoys historical fiction–this tale is history brought forward in time to present-day

* appreciates a strong female lead. Although this story is from Saul’s point of view, we get a good take on Agatha, who does things that Saul wouldn’t dream of doing, like spending the night alone in the abandoned lot that houses Saul’s and his friends’ clubhouse–the site that used to belong to Agatha’s grandfather back in the day.

Use this to teach:

Essay writing–Saul enters an essay-writing contest about life in his hometown back in the “olden days.” He gets his material first-hand from Agatha, of course, but the final interpretation is all his. It might be fun to have students interview someone from an older generation–a grandparent or another senior citizen–and then compose an essay that compares and contrasts life now with life in the past.

* Anti-Bullying--There’s an obvious bully in this story–a boy who torments Saul and every other kid who dare cross into his territory. But Saul and his friends are bystanders who completely shut out another classmate–a girl who, as it turns out, has a future family tie to Agatha. Not only does Saul gain the courage to stand up to the bully who has threatened him since always, but he also learns to reach out to a loner girl in his class–someone who has always existed on the fringes, of society, both socially and economically.

The Nitty Gritty~

Click here for reviews.

Publisher: Floris Books (UK)

Publication Date: July 2013

ISBN-13: 978-0863159541

Number of Pages: 240

Interest Level: Middle Grade (ages 9-12)

Thanks to Sheila at Book Journeys for starting this meme, and Jen (Teach Mentor Texts) and Kellee (Unleashing Readers) for turning it into a kid-lit meme! Click here for more Monday reviews.

Thanks to Sheila at Book Journeys for starting this meme, and Jen (Teach Mentor Texts) and Kellee (Unleashing Readers) for turning it into a kid-lit meme! Click here for more Monday reviews.

Visit Shannon Messenger's website for more marvelous middle grade titles!

Visit Shannon Messenger’s website for more marvelous middle grade titles!


20 responses to “The Accidental Time Traveler by Janis Mackay

  1. Ohhh, this looks very good and what a great cover too! So many hints. Boy and girl on opposite side hands pressing on the tree with looks of deep concentration. What an odd collection of objects in the tree branches. Yes, I definitely want to look into this title. Thank you for links to other reviews too.

    • I love this cover, too, Julee! It poses so many questions and definitely appeals to both boys and girls. As a librarian, I’ve seen how important covers are for kids–it’s amazing the number of kids who slide a book out of the stack, dub the cover a no-go, and slide it back in the stacks. I think this one’s a keeper.

  2. this looks fun to read… time travel, problem solving, and bullies all in the same book. definitely on my reading list. I’ve posted a MMGM book also, about bullies, but no time travel…

  3. Hi there Natalie. I love books about time travel. The book cover also caught my eye – it looks great. And with a touch of historical fiction to boot. How awesome. Reminds me a little bit of an NYRB novel that I read several years back, Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer – blending both historical fiction and the notion of time travel.

  4. Love this review and curriculum connections. Really enjoyed the book as well.

  5. Wow, this looks like a must read title. Like others, I find the cover really appealing. I’m thinking this might be great for my student book club as it has so many discussion topics. Thank you for this review and suggestions.

  6. I love time travel. Most time travel novels involve a modern kid going back in time, so it’s unusual to have someone from the past come to our time instead. This made me think of SWITCHING WELL by Peni R. Griffin. Have you ever read that?

  7. I fit all the parameters for the kid who might like it (except perhaps the kid part)…Thanks for the review– I review a time travel book every Tuesday, and I’ll be looking for this one to add to my list (which is almost at 200 now…).

  8. Yay, I love time travel books in which a character from the past comes to another character’s time period! I’ll be reviewing this one on my blog soon, too!

  9. I’ve never heard of this one before, It sounds interesting. It would be very frightening and confusing to go forward in time. Thanks for the review.

  10. Natalie, I’m so glad I came across your blog! Your summary of this book got me sincerely interested in reading it. It’s definitely on my “to read” list now. Not only does the story sound really well-woven, but when you mentioned about Agatha wanting to sleep in the clubhouse that was on the same site as her grandfather’s, it really intrigued me and gave me a whole, very cool “Back to the Future” feel going on. Thanks! 🙂

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