- ISBN: 9780008544744
- ISBN 10: 0008544743
- Imprint: HarperCollins GB
- List Price: 16.99 AUD
A new Ross Welford novel is always a treat, and this is no exception. His time-travelling escapades are always full of adventure, tension and humour, and at the same time, they are thought-provoking. This one ticks all those boxes again.
In 2425 the Earth is barely recognisable. It has, for the most part, reverted to wild nature after a cataclysmic meteor event in the 21st century. This did not create widespread destruction, being relatively small in size, but did bring it with it a mystery virus which rendered most of the global population infertile. With less and less children being born, and therefore, a smaller population overall, highly urbanised life as we would know it gradually disappeared.
Ocean lives in the future in a small fishing village, near what is now Newcastle-on-Tyne and when Monsieur Lumière, his nephew, Duke, and Pierre the monkey arrive with a fantastical travelling show revealing artefacts of the ‘Wonder Age’, she is completely entranced, but also sceptical of their plan to secure a ‘Time Tablet’ buried in 2023.
In 2023 Thomas is annoyed that his Australian cousin, Kylie, has arrived to live with his family, as she is going to attend a fancy school for super-brilliant kids. He certainly doesn’t plan on her whacky invention of a Time Tablet being able to do anything, let alone allow people to communicate with the future.
What is set in motion is a kind of exchange, with Kylie and Thomas finding themselves in 2425, while Ocean and Pierre are stranded in the 2023 they’ve left behind. Naturally, there is also a villain involved here. Duke’s vicious step-father is after the Time Tablet as it contains the last viable silicon chip in existence.
It’s a roller coaster adventure from start to finish with so much going on to love. The quirky language and vocabulary that has evolved in the future setting, the stereotypical TV hosts of the present, Ocean’s suspicious and sceptical Nanny Moo, and Monsieur Lumière’s charming excitability for a start.
There is a lot of food for thought here about the positives and negatives of modern life, and the opportunity to speculate on ‘what if’ would give rise to some really rich discussions., e.g. would a plastic bottle of water still be viable after 400 years?
You may wonder at my timing for this review but if I tell you that among this cast of memorable characters, Kylie – full name: Kylene Toora Woollagong is a First Nations girl, it should be clearer. Thomas’ Aboriginal ‘mega-brain’cousin is a stand-out character, and I love that. Well played, Ross!
There are some wonderful themes to explore here around family relationships, urban life versus slow living, and perceptions of people and places. Thomas’ and Kylie’s initial discord is certainly smoothed over by the time they have survived the future with wild boars and even wilder step-fathers, not to mention a very unpleasant librarian while Ocean and Nanny Moo find themselves with a new family, which includes one very lucky monkey.
Your kiddos who have enjoyed Ross’ previous books will be eager to get their hands on this and if your readers have not yet discovered this talented storyteller, this would make a great serial read for them. Highly recommended for kiddos from around 10 upwards.