Shamefully, I’ve had hold of this book for ages. I first heard about it after reading The bombs that brought us together (such a good book). I’ve always been a big fan of the Costa book awards (both adult and children), so I was curious about the rest of the shortlisted titles. Ross Welford’s Time travelling with a hamster instantly caught my eye.
Everyone dreams of time travelling, but for Al Chaudhury it becomes reality. On his twelfth birthday, Grandpa Byron gives him a letter from his late father. It’s a mission. With Alan Shearer the hamster in tow, and an unlikely time machine, Al is in a race against time to change the past. But at what cost?
I loved the concept of this book. I loved the relationship between Al and Grandpa Byron, it felt very real and totally wonderful. Reading the parts about how much Al misses his father left a lump in my throat. Again, it was completely believable. He’s essentially a boy desperately trying to deal with a horrific loss. Who wouldn’t dream of going back in time to save someone they love? Who wouldn’t jump at the chance despite the risk? I didn’t even mind the time travel (I think I’m a child at heart). The issue I had with the book was the change that Al makes. I don’t want to say too much, but I think it’s dangerous territory considering the theme.
That being said, I really liked this little book. It had a great deal of heart and dealt well with some really difficult themes, especially for a younger audience. I loved the overall journey and there were some very funny moments along the way, which offset the really awful ones. I also loved the fact that there was a hamster called Alan Shearer!! All in all, a great read. Worthy of the shortlist.