Toppsta - Childrens Books – Reviews

Guest Blog by Louise Nettleton

8th March 2019

Guest Blog by Louise Nettleton

After sharing our own list of time-travel books, book blogger Louise Nettleton has put together this list of her favourites. Many thanks to Louise for this guest blog. 

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Time travel is popular in children’s fiction because it allows characters from the present day to experience events from the past or future.

These stories usually begin with a character in the present day with a problem, who is looking at it in a rigid way. By travelling in time, the character gains a new perspective on their problems as well as learning about how their setting looked in a different era.

I discovered Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer as a child and my love of time travel began. What stuck with me about the novel was the way Charlotte, the main character who travels from her boarding school in the Sixties (contemporary to the publication of the novel), to the time of the first world war, finds traces of her historical adventure in the present day. Time travel is a genre which connects us with the people of the past.

As a teenager, I read lots of adult fiction, but returned to children’s literature during my early 20s when I was studying for my degree. One of the first things I did was go in search of other time travel novels, scouring second-hand bookshops and consulting blogs.

Since then, several more great titles have been published. Here are some time travel stories for children. I have put the historical settings in brackets to help people looking for specific eras. 

Toppsta
2019-03-08
Guest Blog by Louise Nettleton
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The Wind Eye (AD 600s)

Bertrand and Madeline alienate everybody they talk to with their stubborn belief that they are superior. They shouldn’t have married. Their children think so, even though they are good friends themselves.

A family holiday gets off to a bad start when Madeline steps on St Cuthbert’s tomb despite warnings of the curse it carries.

The children discover a boat, but it isn’t ordinary. It takes them back to the time of the Viking Raids on Lindisfarne, where St Cuthbert waits with a message for the family.

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The Gauntlet

Peter and Gwyn are walking on a Welsh hillside which was the site of a battle between the Welsh and the Normans. When Peter finds a gauntlet, he becomes the next person to experience its legendary powers. At first it is unclear why someone who isn’t Welsh would find the gauntlet, but then Peter learns that his Norman ancestors came to the same area.

Peter is transported back to the 1300s where lives as the son of a Norman Lord. Peter learns to use a longbow and to guide a falcon before he is faced with his biggest challenge. 

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The Naming of William Rutherford (1665 Plague)

Jack sees a cradle in the window of an antiques shop and persuades his mother to buy it for her anticipated baby. When Jack examines the cradle, he finds himself back in the 1600s where a girl named Susannah is concerned about her baby brother.

Susannah lives in the village of Eyam, where a terrible illness is killing many of the residents. To prevent the spread of the plague the villagers agree to isolate themselves from the outside world.

It appears that Jack may be the only person who can help Susannah and William. 

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Gideon the Cutpurse (1760s)

An anti-gravity machine sends new acquaintances Peter Schock and Kate Dyer back to the 1700s. Before they can return to the present day, the machine is stolen by the infamous criminal known as the Tar Man.

Their only hope is reformed pickpocket Gideon Seymour. He takes the children under his wing and guides them in their quest to get the machine back.

 It appears Gideon has had dealings with the Tar Man and his master before, and that Gideon’s past might catch up with him before he can help the children to recover the machine. 

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Evie's Ghost (Early 1800s)

Evie is in a tantrum. Her Mum has gone off on honeymoon with a new partner, leaving Evie with her godmother in a strange old flat. Evie can’t think of any worse injustice.

At midnight on her first night, Evie is visited by the ghostly figure of a girl at the bedroom window. Evie flees from the room and finds herself in 1814.

Disguised as a housemaid, Evie must scrub pans and mind her manners in order to keep her head down. With the help of her new friend Polly, Evie’s eyes are slowly opened to the injustices of the past and she realises she may be the only person who can right a wrong which was done 200 years before she was born.

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Charlotte Sometimes (First World War)

It is Charlotte’s first night at boarding school. She falls asleep in her bed, but when she wakes up everything has changed. The girl in the next bed is not the person who was there the night before and the view outside the window has changed.

Everyone thinks Charlotte is a girl called Claire Mobley. Nobody seems to have noticed she is a different person. Nobody except Emily, Claire’s little sister who Charlotte must now pretend is her own. When Charlotte finds herself unable to get back to the present, she must learn to act as Claire in order to remain close to the school and the bed which will get her home. 

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A Chase In Time (1912)

Alex Pilgrim loves the beautiful old things at Applecott House and is devastated to think it is going to be sold.

When he and his sister Ruby fall through a mirror and into 1912, they meet Dora and Henry and their Uncle Altherton who has recently purchased an Anglo-Saxon wedding cup.

Alex wonders if the wedding cup may help to save Applecott House in the present day, but it seems the cup was stolen in 1912. The children of the past and present must prevent the cup from being stolen so that it will be passed down the generations. They join forces in the car chase of a lifetime.  

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Beswitched (1930s)

Flora can’t see why her Granny has to come and live with the family. She’s never been part of their lives before. Flora is resentful that she must spend a couple of terms at boarding school while her parents sell Granny’s house and wait for her new flat to be done up.

A magic spell calls Flora out of the present to another boarding school in the past. Now she must pose as a jolly-good-sort school girl at 1930s St Winifred’s, and befriend her three roommates: Pogo, Dulcie and the outgoing Pete. Can Flora befriend Pete and prevent her from making a mistake which will affect her for life?  

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A Tale of Time City (outside of time)

Vivian is evacuated from London in 1939. She expects to be sent away to the countryside like the other children, but instead she is whisked right outside of time to a place called Time City.

One of the strangest things about Time City is the time ghosts who appear in different places to mark important events of the past and future.

Rogue time travellers are plotting to take control of the city.  If they succeed, time and history as we know it will be destroyed.

Two boys think Vivian is the answer to this problem, because she appears in the city as a time ghost herself. The trouble is, Vivian has no idea what important thing she must do because the ghost marks events which will happen in the future.

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Louise Nettleton is an aspiring middle-grade writer who reviews children’s fiction and young adult literature at bookmurmuration.wordpress.com and you can follow Louise on Twitter too.

Toppsta
2019-03-08
Guest Blog by Louise Nettleton

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