Author: Ross Welford
Title: Time Traveling with a Hamster
Narrator: Bruce Mann
Publication Info: Listening Library (2016)
“My dad died twice. Once when he was thirty-nine, and again four years later when he was twelve. (He’s going to die a third time as well, which seems a bit rough on him, but I can’t help that.)”
Al Chaudhury is a nerdy 12-year-old growing up in the North of England who is off Indian and Welsh heritage. He lives with his mom, her boyfriend Steve with whom he doesn’t connect well, his goth half-sister Carly with whom he does not get along, and his genius Grandpa Byron. On his twelfth birthday, Al is given a letter written by his father Pye before his death four years earlier.
Al is tasked with finding his father’s time machine and traveling back to 1984 when the young Pye suffered an accident that would contribute to his early death decades later. Pye was unable to do it himself because the rules of time travel prevent the same person from appearing twice at the same time. In this very sweet story, Al makes several attempts to figure out the time machine and how to fix the past, while forming a bond with his father as a boy his own age. And yes, he travels with Alan Shearer, a pet hamster that was also a birthday gift.
I love time travel stories and really enjoyed this messy, heartfelt adventure even if it makes me feel old that traveling to 1984 is treated as the distant past. Grandpa Byron is a great character and reminds me of my own grandfather who tried to get me to read a book about learning memorization skills. And this is a light spoiler but I love that this is the only time travel story other than Back to the Future where changes in the past lead to a more positive future for the protagonist.
- When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
- Time Traveller: A Scientist’s Personal Mission to Make Time Travel a Reality by Ronald L. Mallett