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Timesnatch by Robert Swindells


I have been trying to find books about history and fell upon this one as it involves time travel. I was expecting much, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was easy to read and quite fast paced with believable characters. Not quite a recommended read (I only reserve the BEST books for that) but definitely worth a go if you have nothing else to read. It could be read easily to a class too and wouldn’t take too long: I think it would take about a half term to read to a class.



Author:   Robert Swindells

Title: Timesnatch

Date of Publication:  Originally published in 1995 but loads of editions since then


AR Level: 4.3


Summary of book

This book is based in the present day and is about the Rye family of three: mother and two children. The mum, Harper Rye, is a scientist and has invented a time machine. She wants the time machine to be used to resurrect extinct species but the world has other plans for her time machine! The books tells the story of the Rye family as they try to keep the invention a secret and how they deal with it when the word finally gets out.

Who should read this book?

This is definitely a book for key stage 2 (years 3-6) although some more able readers in year six may not feel sufficiently challenged. The two main characters, Fraser and Kizzy, are also this age so they would be easy to relate to. It involved issues that are relevant to this age group: bullying, school, secrets, friendships and the strangeness of the world around them.

Who are the main characters?

Fraser: a boy between the age of 10-13

Kizzy: Fraser’s younger sister around the age of 6-8

Harper: Fraser and Kizzy’s mum

What can I learn from it?

You can learn a lot about extinct animals and science. As the story doesn’t actually take you in to the past, you won’t learn about past worlds but it would start an interesting scientific discussion about extinction and science. It also teaches about honesty, trust, friendship and the dangers of the media and fame.


Extinction, science, family, friendship, trust, school, bullying and the media.

What will excite a reader?

You get the sense that the time machine (called Rye’s apparatus) will be discovered but you don’t know when or how so you’re constantly guessing. As a reader, I felt like I really got to know Fraser and really liked him as a character.

What did Mrs T think of it?

It was good for the reasons above but it wasn’t one that I couldn’t put down. I would happily read it to children though, especially if they were learning about biology and animal extinction.