The Time Traveller and the Tiger by Tania Unsworth

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The Time Traveller and the Tiger by Tania Unsworth

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: Adventure and excitement abound in this time travel story that sees a girl suddenly transported from a quiet English garden to the forests of India!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: October 2020
Publisher: Zephyr
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1788541701

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Elsie is an ordinary sort of girl. The sort of small girl who often gets overlooked, and forgotten. She is quiet, and compliant, and makes the best of whatever happens to her. So when her parents forget that her school holidays have started before they are free to take care of her, they have to arrange for her to go and stay with her Great Uncle for a week. Poor Elsie, forgotten again, just decides to make the best of things. On investigating the house she finds that her Great Uncle had lived in India as a boy, and he has an enormous tiger rug on the floor of one of the rooms. When Elsie asks him about the rug he seems unhappy, and he says he has to keep it because he was the one who shot the tiger when he was 12 years old, and he says it was the worst thing he ever did. So when Elsie suddenly finds herself magically transported back many, many years, to the time in India when her Great Uncle was 12 years old, she believes that she must try to stop him from killing the tiger, in order to put something right that happened a long time ago.

This story has the feel of an old, classic story, of a child who is sent away to the country, living with an elderly relative, and going on an adventure! I really liked all the different adventure aspects to the book, with the time travel, an adventure in another country, a family mystery to solve, and lots of moments of peril throughout! Elsie is an appealing character, and it's interesting to see her transported both in time and place.

In her free time, Elsie enjoys writing stories about a girl she calls Kelsie Corvette. When she's writing Kelsie's life, she's able to give her the exciting, successful life that she herself aspires to have. So when she finds herself in India, and she meets her Great Uncle John as a boy, she doesn't want to give him her real name, so she tells him her name is Kelsie Corvette, finally living out her fantasies of an adventurous life! Elsie gets to know John, as they try to find their way out of the forest, and during their travels, they also meet up with John's friend Mandeep. Elsie knows that something had happened between John and Mandeep in the past that had meant they hadn't seen each other for a very long time, but she isn't sure what. The mystery surrounding the shooting of the tiger somehow also involves Mandeep.

As the children try to get back to John's family home, they find themselves captured by some hunters, and the mystery develops even further as they try to discover what is going on, and whether they can rescue not just one tiger, but lots of tigers who are all destined to be shot. There are horrible adults galore, and lots of creeping around to investigate, and listening in on conversations - all those aspects of children's adventures that we love!

This was a really engaging and enjoyable story to read. I liked Elsie, and the interplay of her character with John's works very well. He is very stubborn and awkward, and yet Elsie also knows, from knowing him in her own time, that he's nice, and gentle, and kind. I particularly liked how Elsie is unable to convince him that she is from a different time. His reaction to the things she tries to tell him about the future is funny! It's also interesting to see his relationship with Mandeep when they meet him, and to see the skillsets of the two boys, and how Elsie works with them to uncover what is happening at the hunter's house.

You can imagine the backdrop of India as you read, and the elements of danger with the tigers and the hunters feel very real (but not too scary for bedtime reading!) Time travel can sometimes be tricky, with things being changed and ripple effects, but everything was explained easily, and it made sense! Even with the huge impact that Elsie's actions end up having on her Great Uncle's life. The chapters are nice and short, so although it's probably aimed at confident readers around 9 to 12 years old, I think more reluctant readers might be persuaded to give it a try as the chapters are very manageable. I found myself reading just a bit more, and then just a bit more again, wanting to see what would happen - definitely recommended as an exciting, fun read!

Further reading: You might also enjoy reading Lost by Ele Fountain. You might also enjoy A Small Free Kiss in the Dark by Glenda Millard or The Mirror of Pharos by J S Landor.

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Buy The Time Traveller and the Tiger by Tania Unsworth at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Time Traveller and the Tiger by Tania Unsworth at

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