When I saw that Sinéad O’Hart had a new book coming out I knew I had to read it! Skyborn completely gripped me and The Time Tider was no exception; a twisty, faced paced adventure with danger at the turn of every page!
Mara and her dad have lived in their van for as long as she can remember. Whatever her father does to scrape a living has kept them constantly moving and Mara has never questioned it. That is until she uncovers a collection of notes addressed to ‘the Tider’, an individual responsible for harvesting lost time from people whose lives were cut short.
But before Mara can question her father he is taken by a dangerous group who want to use his power for evil. With the very fabric of time and space at stake, it’s down to Mara and her new friend Jan to find him before it’s too late…
It’s with pleasure I get to share a guest post from Sinéad today – keep reading for some fabulous recommendations of Children’s books about time…
My Favourite Kids’ Books About Time
There’s nothing I like better than a good book – and one of my favourite types of book is one that uses ideas about time to tell its story. I love time-travel books, timeslip books (where a character falls through a hole, or looks into a mirror, or sets foot into the wrong part of the forest, and ends up in a completely different time to the one they’re used to), and books that are set in a different time, whether that’s the past or the future. There’s something really exciting about time; thinking about how it works, imagining how it would feel to slide out of your own era and into someone else’s. How would you dress? Would you be able to eat the food? As soon as you opened your mouth to speak, would you be found out as a time-traveller?
Lots of things are the same from one time period to another – people still have to get up to go to school, or work; kids are loved and protected by their grown-ups, whether that means their parents or some other caregivers; adults complain about the government (sometimes quietly, sometimes loudly); people want their families to live in peace. But, of course, lots of things change. Leaders change, clothes and fashions and foods and modes of transportation and laws and houses and technology shift and develop from one era to the next. And this is what makes writing about time so much fun – it’s easy, in one way, to imagine life in the past, or the future. People are still people; we need to eat, go to the loo (unless you can invent a way to make that unnecessary in your futuristic world!), go to school or work (which, of course, might look very different in your futuristic or long-ago fictional world to how it does in the present), but everything else is open for imagining. Will your characters use money? How do they pay for things? In the past, before money was invented, there were systems like barter, where people would trade one thing for another – so, you could take inspiration from this and invent a futuristic society where barter is the way business is done. What sort of food do they eat? How is it grown? And how do they cook it?
And most importantly of all: what sort of stories are they reading? And are books still a thing?
To help celebrate the publication of my new book, The Time Tider, I’ve put together a non-exhaustive list of some of my favourite books that do interesting things with time, whether that’s using time travel as a plot device, or having characters slip (perhaps temporarily) into the past or the future, or simply setting a book in a past era and bringing it to life really well, or reimagining the past – putting characters into an alternative history, and imagining how that would have felt, and how it might have changed things in the modern world. There are no shortage of brilliant timey-wimey books, but I hope these get you off to a good start!
Firstly: if you’re interested in time as a theme in books, then you could do worse than follow the Time Tunnellers, a group of children’s authors (Ally Sherrick, Susan Brownrigg, Barbara Henderson, Catherine Randall and Jeanie Waudby) who write blogs about historical settings, taking you through their meticulous research and some of the cool things they discover – and, of course, who’ve all written fantastic books!
The Buried Crown by Ally Sherrick (of Time Tunnellers fame) is a brilliant novel about the Anglo-Saxon past intertwining with the ‘present day’ (the book is set during World War II, in the 1940s). The story brings the past to life in such brilliant colour, and is a very moving and interesting look at what life was like in wartime Britain.
For books that do mind-blowing things with the concept of time and time-travel, look no further than Patience Agbabi’s The Infinite, The Time Thief and The Circle Breakers, a trilogy about children born on Leap Day (February 29th, which only comes around once every four years). Some of these children, including Elle (the books’ protagonist) also have the Gift, which allows them to leap through time as Leaplings – and so begins a crime-solving, brain-bending series of adventures!
Elsetime by Eve McDonnell is a time-slip adventure with tons of heart. Mudlarker Needle finds a strange object on his travels one day – an object that’s warm to the touch. Usually, he can tell a lot about the objects he discovers, but this one is different. It brings him through time, to a girl named Glory, for a very special purpose. Can they work together to save the day?
The Ice Whisperers by Helenka Stachera is a tale of two sisters born 40,000 years apart – and if that tagline doesn’t make you want to read this book, I don’t know what will! Meet Bela, a girl sent to live with her uncle in Siberia after her father’s disappearance and her mother’s death. There, she discovers an incredible secret – a doorway to the Ice Age, and to the sister she never knew she had.
The Storm Keeper’s Island trilogy by Catherine Doyle is a rich and beautiful series of books which weave magical time-travel, where the characters go down through the layers of an island’s history, with Irish mythology and history in thrilling and unforgettable ways.
Wonderscape and Legendarium by Jennifer Bell whisk the reader way into the future – and into a massive multiplayer game which must be solved in order for the characters to make their way home. Full of invention and adventure, these books are brilliant.
Elemental Detectives by Patrice Lawrence is a thrilling story set in an alternative eighteenth-century London which brings the city, and its rich, multi-layered history, to life in fascinating ways. Marisee and Robert are our heroes, who must stop the Shepherdess from putting London to sleep – forever!
The Wild Way Home and The Way to Impossible Island by Sophie Kirtley are classic time-slip novels, where characters from the modern day interact with characters from the distant past. Funny, moving, gripping, scary, and a fascinating window into ancient prehistoric civilisations.
Or how about Race to the Frozen North or another excellent historical novel from Catherine Johnson, who tells stories from the past in a way we might not have encountered before? In Race to the Frozen North, Johnson tells the story of Matthew Henson, a Polar explorer who is not as well known as he should be.
There’s also Time Travelling With a Hamster by Ross Welford, which sees our hero, Al, have to travel back in time to his own father’s childhood for a very special purpose…
…and books like She Wolf by Dan Smith, which imagines the life of an incredibly brave Viking child, Ylva, hunting the people who murdered her mother…
…and the charming The Spell Tailors by James Nicol, in which magic brings Henryton back through the past, into his own family’s history, to uncover a mystery which might save them in the present…
…to classics like Moondial by Helen Cresswell, Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce, and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine l’Engle. Like I said, in true time-travel fashion, when it comes to brilliant books about time, there’s no end to the possibilities!
With thanks to Little Tiger Books for inviting me to be part of the tour for this fantastic book.
The Time Tider is out now!