Friday, July 2, 2021

Adventures in Time Travel


I’m often asked why I chose to write historical time-travel novels for kids, and a big part of the reason is the books I’ve read over the years that transported me back to other times and places. Vicarious adventures, of a sort.


Among my favorites were the Half Magic books by Edward Eager. They featured regular kids who discovered talismans or magical animals that deposited the kids back in some earlier era. In Knight’s Castle, for example, they found themselves in a medieval castle along with characters from Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe. In The Time Garden, their stops included a visit with Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women family. At the same time, the kids’ experiences in their present day—in the case of these books, the 1950s and 1920s—are very well-grounded.


Other time-travel books, including the classic A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle, and Time Cat, by Lloyd Alexander, also sparked my imagination.


As a college student, I majored in history, immersing myself in the past and musing on people in earlier times. How did they think? What did they wear? What vocabulary did they use? Another form of imaginary adventures.


So, years later, after working as a journalist—another set of adventures!—I embarked on my time travel series, which involves a group of present-day kids living in Bethesda, Maryland, who find a magic object (a tricornered hat, for example) that whisks them back in time to meet the early presidents. The characters, both present-day and historical, plunge into adventures that change how they think about themselves. Just as I did when I began my reading adventures as a kid.


--Deborah Kalb, author of various books including Thomas Jefferson and the Return of the Magic Hat


  1. When I visit classrooms,I always tell students that my books are time travel the past instead of the future. Writing historical fiction takes us to those places of yesteryear we don't often get to see in a regular history class. Thanks for sharing this Deborah.

    1. Thanks, Darlene. Yes, that's a good way of putting it!

  2. I LOVE this. Especially the idea of the vicarious time-traveling adventures changing how we feel about ourselves.