The Trouble with Time Travel, by Stephen W. Martin, illustrated by Cornelia Li, for Timeslip Tuesday

Gee.  The past few weeks have been the longest I've ever gone without reviewing anything since my blog started over a decade ago.  But I got the pre-Thanksgiving home renovations that needed finishing finished (mostly), got the house clean (mostly) and had a lovely time with my dear extended family!  And now I'm back, easing myself in gently with a picture book review...

The Trouble with Time Travel, by Stephen W. Martin, illustrated by Cornelia Li (Owlkids, October 15, 2019), is a charming (though stressful) story of Max and her dog Boomer, and a too-enthusiastically thrown Frisbee that shatters a family heirloom, the one thing saved from the mysterious sinking of her many-times great-grandmother's houseboat.  Max decides that the only thing to do about the shattered vase is to build a time machine, and go back in time to smash the vase before it ended up in her living room.

Happily, building a time machine is but the work of minutes (a nice bit of girl engineering power), and off go Max and Boomer!  Controlling the machine, though, is tricky, and they bounce along the millennia from ancient Egypt to a robotic future, before reaching the houseboat....and causing it to sink (and the vase is, as it always has been, is saved...).

Faced with this disaster, Max decides confessing right at the beginning would have been a better course of action, and so she finds herself just before the fatal Frisbee is thrown, and delivers the important message.

Obviously, young readers will assume that "don't throw the Frisbee!" would be a great message.  But instead, Max gives herself a different warning--"do not build a time machine!"  And the book ends with the Frisbee about to begin its fatal flight....

It's a funny story, with attractively detailed illustrations adding lots to the text.  The plot, and the twist of the end, gives lots of room for discussion and contemplation, making this a very nice "my first contemplating the consequences and paradoxes of time travel" sort of book!  I myself would have liked more time bouncing around the past and future-there are only three spreads of time travel, and I think a bit more would have made it clear how difficult time travel can be, and heightened the tension.  And the picture of the houseboat being crashed into isn't as clear about what's happening as it could have been; the adult reading the book aloud might well  have to explain.  But still, lots of fun!


  1. A picture book on time travel is certainly something new! Still a bit of a hard sell with my students. I may need to read this for tips on how to easily build a time machine!

    1. sadly it doesn't give enough information for building your own...


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