‘My dad died twice. Once when he was thirty-nine, and again four years later when he was twelve. (He’s going to die a third time as well, which seems a bit rough on him. but I can’t help that.)’
With this first paragraph, Ross Welford immediately grabs you and takes you on a wild ride through time in his brilliant (and brilliantly titled) new book, Time Travelling with a Hamster.
On Al Chaudhury’s twelfth birthday his beloved Grandpa Byron gives him a letter from Al’s late father. In it Al receives a mission: travel back to 1984 in a secret time machine and save his father’s life.
Al soon discovers that time travel requires daring and imagination. It also requires lies, theft, setting his school on fire and ignoring philosophical advice from Grandpa Byron. All without losing his pet hamster, Alan Shearer
Time Travelling with a Hamster is a funny, fresh take on time travel about a boy who would do anything to get his father back. This book has all the elements of a truly great book – humour, suspense, action, wonderful characters, and lots of heart. It makes you laugh, cry and nervously chew your nails.
This is the perfect time travel book for kids (and adults who love the idea of time travel). Ross brings his own ideas about time travel into the story and makes it easy enough for kids to understand, without dumbing-down the ideas. The time machine that Al’s dad built is not quite what Al imagined a time machine would look like. It is very simple – a laptop connected to a tin tub. Even something this small creates its own problems when traveling back in time. My favourite aspect of Ross’s idea of time travel is ‘Dad’s Law of Doppelgangers.’ Al’s dad explains in a letter to him that ‘an object (or person) may occupy the same dimension of spacetime ONLY ONCE.’ When Al travels back in time he realises that he ‘cannot go back to the same place and time that I was before: it has already been occupied – is already occupied – by me.’ As you can imagine this causes a few problems for Al.
It is a nerve-wracking story at times. There are times in the story that I was holding my breath, wondering how Al was going to get out of a certain situation. As with all time travel stories, little things that are changed in the past can have dramatic effects in the future. Al’s actions have quite dramatic effects on his life and you can’t help putting yourself in his shoes, wondering if you would have done the same.
While it is nerve-wracking at times, there is also a lot of heart in this story. Al misses his dad, who died much too soon. When he gets the chance to go back in time to save him, Al steps into the unknown and does what his dad asks. Al loves his family and if he can bring them back together again he will. The relationships between the males in Al’s family are very strong, especially between Al and his Grandpa Byron. Al looks up to Grandpa Byron, who is wise, caring and has an incredible sense of humour. Grandpa Byron was the character that really stood out for me.
Ross Welford is an author that I’ll be watching. I can’t wait to see what he writes next!