Branford Boase Award
Waterstones Children's Book Award

Ewa Jozefkowicz

‘A heartwarming story about families, friendships, school, nature, hope and self-confidence.’ The Huffington Post

2 Minute Read

The Time Traveller and The Tiger – A mesmerizing escape into 1940s India

‘The Time Traveller and The Tiger’ by Tania Unsworth was waiting patiently for me for the past few weeks, as lockdown life got a bit chaotic and there was little time left for reading. Bit when I got to it, I devoured it in two nights.

It tells the story of Elsie, a girl who yearns to be a braver, cooler version of herself, and who is forced to spend part of her holidays with her Great Uncle John. She succumbs to what she believes will be a week of boredom, only to find that her uncle has led a far more interesting life than she could have ever imagined. In his greenhouse, she comes across the mysterious flower ‘that catches time,’ and gets transported back to 1940s India, where she bumps into John as a young boy – he is in the midst of a mission to kill a tiger, and Elsie knows that she has to stop him. Why? Because this single action will impact everything that happens next.

Tania Unsworth tells a wonderful story filled with beautiful, vivid descriptions of Indian forests and animals in the wild. I loved that the chapters were each written from a different perspective – some from some from Elsie’s point of view, others from John’s and finally some from the point of view of the tiger himself.

The descriptions of the tiger completely transported me, and I found myself feeling a range of conflicting emotions toward him – fear, awe and sadness to name just a few. This is just one of the many beautiful passages used to describe him:

His tail swayed, searching for perfect balance. Then he exploded into the water, covering the distance in two enormous bounds, feeling the rush of certainty that always came with action; the joy that every living thing experiences when it is doing what it is meant to do. 

I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to all 9-12 year olds, but I think it can definitely be enjoyed by many older readers too. It holds a very important message about the ongoing need for wildlife conservation and is filled with adventure and mystery.