Time Traveling with a Hamster

time-travelBack to the Future meets The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in this original, poignant, race-against-time story about a boy who travels back to 1984 to save his father’s life.

My dad died twice. Once when he was thirty-nine and again four years later, when he was twelve. On his twelfth birthday, Al Chaudhury receives a letter from his dead father. It directs him to the bunker of their old house, where Al finds a time machine (an ancient computer and a tin bucket). The letter also outlines a mission: travel back to 1984 and prevent the go-kart accident that will eventually take his father’s life. But as Al soon discovers, whizzing back thirty years requires not only imagination and courage, but also lying to your mom, stealing a moped, and setting your school on fire—oh, and keeping your pet hamster safe. With a literary edge and tons of commerical appeal, this incredible debut has it all: heart, humor, vividly imagined characters, and a pitch-perfect voice.



I haven’t read a middle school level book in quite some time.  I love books about time travel and thought this one sounded cute and interesting:  throw a hamster into the middle of a “tween” science fiction novel and who knows what could happen, right?  Time travel is a big part of this book, but there is so much more to it.  The book teaches about family relationships, bullying, and trust.

Al, the narrator of the story lost his dad at the age of 8.  His mother has remarried and he now has a stepsister.  Al doesn’t have many friends, the most important person in his life being his grandfather.  On his 12th birthday, Al’s mother gives him a letter written to him by his father.  In the letter, Al learns that his dad created a time machine and if used correctly, he could go back to the past and possibly prevent his father’s death.  This is a huge responsibility to place on a young boy.  The question is, does he do it and if so, how successful is he?

I love the lists that Al writes about everything in his life:   family, tough decisions, steps to complete a process and more.  The lists delve into his character and reveal so much about who he is and how he grows throughout the novel.

Time Traveling with a Hamster by Ross Welford is definitely written for a younger age group, but gets technical at times, making it difficult to target an audience to recommend the book.  I enjoyed reading the novel as an adult and think there are others out there who will appreciate it as well. And I know several of my students will enjoy it, too!

4/5 stars

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