Review: Time Travelling with a Hamster by Ross Welford


A truly original debut novel from an extraordinarily talented new voice in children’s books. Laugh, cry and wonder at this race-against-time story of a boy who travels back to 1984 to prevent a go-kart accident, and save his father’s life…

“My dad died twice. Once when he was thirty nine and again four years later when he was twelve.

The first time had nothing to do with me. The second time definitely did, but I would never even have been there if it hadn’t been for his ‘time machine’…”

When Al Chaudhury discovers his late dad’s time machine, he finds that going back to the 1980s requires daring and imagination. It also requires lies, theft, burglary, and setting his school on fire. All without losing his pet hamster, Alan Shearer…


I was sent a review copy of this book from a lovely publicist at Harper Collins and was immediately intrigued by the bold colours of the cover art and the quirky title.  Who could resist anything as odd as travelling through time … with a hamster?

When Al Chaudhury receives a letter on his twelfth birthday from his dead father it changes everything for him and his hamster, Alan Shearer.  In the letter, his father suggests that he has been able to make a time-travelling machine and it works.  However, through his test-travel, he learns of his imminent death and, realising he can’t change things himself, he plans ahead for Al to help change the future by going into the past.  Can Al help his father or will his meddling with the space-time continuum muck things up beyond repair?

I really enjoyed reading this book and found myself sneaking a read of a few pages whenever I could.  I haven’t had that experiences in quite a while so it was nice to feel so drawn to a story and the characters.  Time Travelling with a Hamster isn’t exactly a contemporary read and yet it isn’t quite science-fiction either as the science in it is quite vague in parts.  How the time machine was built and works isn’t really explained much further than ‘science and maths did it’ but, if you can suspend your rational brain for a while, you’ll really get on board with this book.  Who hasn’t wanted to go back and change something in their past or just visit someone that isn’t around anymore?

I loved the contrast in the different eras that we see Al in and how simple things we take for granted nowadays are suddenly vital, even when going back a few decades.  From technology to social opinions and attitudes, Al has to become a quick learner to avoid being arrested or get a clip round the ear by someone.

A touching story about a father and son and how important and strong a family can be even when it is tested with many tragedies.  A good read for fans of The Universe versus Alex Woods and Wonder.

Published by Harper Collins and is available online and in bookshops now

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