When acclaimed storyteller Janis Mackay turned her hand to writing children’s stories, she produced the Magnus Fin series, which delighted children everywhere. With the Accidental Time Traveller, she won the Scottish Children’s Book Award, voted for by children, and so her latest publication, The Reluctant Time Traveller, has been eagerly awaited.
As the name suggests, we meet some of the original characters, in particular Saul and Agnes. Having met Agatha Brown, from two hundred years ago, in the last book, Agnes is desperate to try out time travel herself, though Saul is a bit more reluctant, and far more interested in the school trip to France. However, the children learn that the land on which Saul and his gang have their den is due to be sold by the Council to a developer. No-one knows who actually owns it now, but there is a rumour in Agnes’s family that it might once have been theirs. SaulÂ might not be a natural risk taker, but he can’t resist a challenge, and when Agnes dares him to join her in going back in time, to try to find the deeds to the property, he can’t refuse.
Janis again weaves a history lesson unobtrusively into an exciting story and it’s a topical theme as the children travel back to 1914 and the outbreak of the first world war. The pair manage to get themselves employed as servants in the big house and in the rare time they have off, they make friends with a brother and sister who also work there, find Agnes’s great great great great aunt and track down the Deeds, at the same time exposing the unscrupulous owner and a German spy.
Returning to the present day, they are able to save the den â€“ oops, spoiler but I bet you guessed that bit anyway â€“ and go to France with the school. But they also find out what happened to the people they met and lived with 100 years ago and I bet you too will shed a tear.
Read both books, because they’re worth it!