By Author / Illustrator
Head of Zeus
With echoes of Tom's Midnight Garden, Tania Unsworth writes about transcendent friendships and conservation in the animal kingdom.
Elsie is not looking forward to the long summer holiday with her creaky, old Uncle John. But then the unimaginable happens as Time unravels and Elsie tumbles back to 1940s India to meet her Uncle John as a young boy on a tiger hunt. Can Elsie stop him from doing what he's already told her is a wrong he can never right?
The Time Traveller and the Tiger is a multi-layered novel for 9-12 year-olds, rich in adventure, mystery, historical and conservation themes.
Elsie is used to being forgotten and so when her mother gets her holiday dates wrong and Elsie has to go and stay with Great Uncle John, she tries to make the best of it. After all, nothing exciting ever happens to her unlike Kelsie Corvette, the heroine of the stories Elise writes. However, she has plenty of excitement when she finds herself taken back in time to colonial India where she meets the young version of her Great Uncle and prevents him from killing a tiger. Changing this one event will change everything.
With strong messages about conservation, The Time Traveller and the Tiger is an excellent read with much to recommend it. Racial and sexual discrimination rampant at the time as well as attitudes to wildlife are exposed through the story, offering much to discuss.
The story is told through the eyes of the three children - Elsie, the young John and Mandeep, a young Indian boy who works for John's family - and part from the tiger's perspective. Mandeep cares deeply for the natural world and its creatures, doing everything he can to thwart hunters whereas John wants to prove himself as courageous by making a kill. The boys are friends and yet there is always the tension of 'position' between them. However, there are also many humorous moments in the story, particularly as John and Elsie come to know one another.
Vibrant descriptions bring India to life, creating a memorable, evocative background to the story. The horrors of the spoils of hunting and the needless destruction of wildlife is conveyed brilliantly. Offering adventure and mystery with historical detail, this is a great read.
256 pages / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 9+