Time Cat by Lloyd Alexander
Published by Puffin Books on February 1, 1996
Genres: Children's, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical, Historical Fiction, Science Fiction, Time Travel, Young Adult
Length: 206 pages Source: Scholastic Book Fair
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Gareth's definitely no ordinary cat. For one thing, he can talk. For another, he's got the power to travel through time. And the instant he tells this to Jason, the two of them are in ancient Egypt, on the first of nine amazing adventures that Jason will never forget.
This is the book that time and time again makes me want to be a writer. There’s something about the story that Alexander crafts… it certainly isn’t the main characters, for they are simple (as, in a children’s book, they should be). I think part of it is the history, and part of it is the magic. Alexander is known for his Black Cauldron series, but like any good writer, he continues to shine in other areas as well. Time Cat is no exception. Alexander plays with the idea that a cat does have nine lives, but these aren’t lifetimes… they are nine different worlds wherein a cat can live. From Egypt, to Ireland, to Imperial China and back around again, each world that Gareth and Jason visit has a magic of its own
I find it difficult to describe why I love this book so much. As you can probably see, I trip over my words trying to emphasize the magic I see in it. I had a writing professor in college who once said that most of the fiction novels he forces himself to read these days, he finds deplorable, but there is one book he read once, about a fisher cat and a boy, and it’s absurd and silly and useless, but whenever he finds it in a library, he picks it up, reads it again, and it makes him want to become a novelist. Not because he thinks he could do better, but because it pulls all the right heartstrings. That’s the way I feel about Time Cat.
Admittedly, as I said, the main characters are flat. I don’t hold this against Alexander, or any author who writes children’s books, because the simple fact is that children can only grasp so complex a character. I believe this book is intended for 9-12 year-olds, not 21-year-olds like myself. The author doesn’t have to impress me with his debonair writing – his goal is to enchant children, and I think that Time Cat does that very successfully.