The Reluctant Time Traveller by Janis Mackay

The Reluctant Time Traveller

Written by Janis Mackay
Part of the Kelpies: Time Traveller Series

9+ readers   11+ readers   The World Wars   eBooks   
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The Lovereading4Kids comment

Award-winning Janis Mackay whizzes her readers back in time and gives them a good introduction to 1914 in the days just before the outbreak of World War One. Agnes is determined to find the deeds of the big house which is sure was stolen from her family. Without proof of who owns it, the house is to be knocked down and that would mean the end of the den where Agnes and her friends play. The only way to find them is to travel back in time…Helped by some special magic Agnes and gang-leader Saul find themselves living in a big house in 1914. Their experience tells much about the hardship of the poor at the time and also gives a glimpse of what people thought might happen when war broke out.


The Reluctant Time Traveller by Janis Mackay

If Saul and Agnes don't do something their den will be destroyed. But the title deeds that could save it were lost in 1914. Good job they know the secret of time travel! Still, is travelling back in time to a world on the verge of war really a good idea? When Agnes disappears Saul has no choice -- he can't let her go to the past on her own. 100 years before their own time, Saul and Agnes meet a brother and sister, servants at a big house where a sinister visitor is expected. Together the new friends try to uncover the mystery but Saul and Agnes know time is running out. Soon a war will begin: can they risk altering the past, the present and their future?

This fun, time-twisting sequel to The Accidental Time Traveller -- winner of the Scottish Children's Book Award 2013 -- is full of historical details about World War One and will bring early-twentieth-century Scotland to life for young readers.


'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... Read both books, because they're worth it!'

'So real that kid readers will be wishing they could make the journey right alongside them.'

About the Author

Janis Mackay

Janis Mackay was born and grew up in Edinburgh, but moved to London to study journalism. She has an MA in Creative Writing and has held writer-in-residence posts in both Caithness and Sutherland. She currently lives in Edinburgh, where she teaches creative writing and works as a writer and storyteller. She is the author of the Magnus Fin series.

A Q&A with the author about the writing of The Accidental Time Traveller....

Q. did you always want to be an author?


Q. How long did this book take to write?

A. Probably a year in all. I finished it while spending a month on an island in Finland in the spring of 2012.

Q. When did you first get the idea to write about time travel?

A. In 2011 I went to a theatre show about Marjory Fleming. She lived in Edinburgh 200 years before. At the age of 8 she kept a diary and wrote poems and observations of life, and of herself. She was a wonderful writer. She died before her ninth birthday, but the diary was kept and later published. This gave me a Scottish child’s insight into life 200 years ago. It was Marjory that inspired the theme.

Q. This book is very different to Magnus Fin. What is your favourite thing about this new book?

A. I love Agatha Black’s way of speaking, and her innocence and response in meeting the modern world.

Q. Do you have a favourite character in this book?

A. They are all very real to me. Agatha and Saul of course are favourites, and Agnes, and the pet monkey – and poor old Albert Black!

Q. If you met someone who had time travelled from the past what would you ask them?

A. How they did it!

Q. What do you like best about being an author?

A. All the money you make! Ha ha – joking! I like teetering on the edge in front of possibilities then jumping in and making someone that didn’t exist before.

Q. What was the hardest thing about writing a story involving time travel?

A. to make it seem like this could really happen. I like to write fantasy, but to write in such a way that this could be true.

Q. In the book Agatha has a performing pet monkey. Have you ever had unusual pets?

A. I had a tortoise that never woke up from its shoebox under my bed. Then, when I lived in France we had a yellow talking parrot called Jaco who was extremely annoying. Now I have a collie dog called Flora.

Q. If you lived in 1812 what job would you want to do?

A. Well, to be honest, I think I would like to be a man and be a travelling player.

Q. If you could travel to any point in history where would you go?

A. Way back, to Pictish times to see the land and the wild animals and to sit around a crackling log fire and see what people looked like 1000 years ago, and how they spoke.

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Book Info


240 pages
Interest Age: From 8


Janis Mackay
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Kelpies an imprint of Floris Books

Publication date

21st August 2014




Publisher Profile

Kelpies an imprint of Floris Books is an imprint of Kelpies


Floris Books celebrate quality children’s books with brilliant authors, engaging stories and a Scottish twist! They create books that capture children’s imaginations at all ages. Under 6s will have loads of fun with Picture Kelpies picture books, 9 to 12-year-olds will be whisked away by Kelpies and young teens will be gripped by KelpiesTeen novels.

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