The Accidental Time Traveller

Janis Mackay

Available to buy

Quick Look

  • Winner of the Scottish Children's Book Award 2013 Younger Readers (8-11 years) category
  • A pacy, time-travelling adventure from Janis Mackay, author of the Magnus Fin serie

Agatha Black is from 1812, and Saul needs to find a way to get her back there. With new friend Agnes, can he work out how to make time travel happen?

198 x 130 mm
Floris Books
Age Range:
From 8 to 12 years
208 pages
Publication date:
21 Feb 2013


Winner of the Scottish Children's Book Award 2013 Younger Readers (8-11 years) category

One ordinary day, Saul is on his way to the corner shop when a girl appears suddenly in the middle of the road. She doesn't understand traffic, or the things in shops, and she's wearing a long dress with ruffled sleeves. Her name is Agatha Black.

Agatha Black is from 1812, and Saul needs to find a way to get her back there. With help from his mates Will and Robbie, he tries to work out how to make time travel happen.

This pacy, time-travelling adventure from Janis Mackay, author of the Magnus Fin series, is full of funny misunderstandings and gripping action.


'This book is very exciting. My favourite character is Agatha. I found her quite funny and very clever, and I found it interesting to see the things she was surprised about in the modern world - things are much noisier now than in 1812! ... I especially enjoyed learning some history while I read. I would recommend this book for boys and girls who like history.'
-- Children's Books, The Guardian

'This is really a sweet story of a boy trying to help a girl from a different time go home ... The story is based on a real diary of the past written by a young girl that died from measles, so it has the ring of authenticity. There is a lot of misunderstanding and a lot of action in this novel. While it's written for young adults, I really enjoyed this and intend to buy a copy for my personal library.'
-- Journey of a Bookseller blog

'This is a well-structured time-slip story that cleverly keeps its momentum and manages, largely through the sympathetic character of Saul, to draw the reader in ... he's friendly, generous and principled traits that help him to grow in maturity and wisdom as his friendship with Agatha develops. The ever-present landscape of snow and slush, thick fog and dark winter skies -- and Christmas warmth -- adds atmosphere to this enjoyable story.'
-- Books for Keeps

'This story is really charming, and in the end, very heartwarming. More great "stealth teaching" about history and life in another era as well as dealing with bullying and the meaning of friendship ... I highly recommend it for middle school readers and beyond.'
-- The Goode Word blog

'I like the book and I think upper elementary school readers will like it as well.'
-- Guys Lit Wire blog

'Janis is a clever teacher. Rather than explain the differences between life then and now, she uses humour and misunderstandings to provide a gentle history lesson in the midst of an exciting adventure. As well as forging a good plot, Saul is an engaging hero; he wants all the things boys want at Christmas but has a sense of integrity that wins through in the end as he and his friends overcome prejudice and bullying.'
-- Lothian Life

'This book had a great story line. The characters in the book felt and acted their age. There was a good character arc throughout the book. I read this book in a fairly short time because the story just sucks you right in. Very smooth writing for an easy read ... The themes in this book were very good (themes such as: family, courage, standing up to bullies, acceptance of others).'
-- Rantings, Ravings and Ramblings blog

'Mackay has written another playful, easy going story for pre-teens full of lively dialogue. We experience everything through Saul's eyes and thought-life which he directs towards the reader, telling us the story as it unfolds...Agatha comes off the page as an interesting, talented person, presenting fascinating facts of life in the past...[T]his is not a book which wants to educate children but rather give them a good time, encouraging them to read for themselves as Saul takes them by the hand while he narrates his adventure. Children will hopefully find the meeting of two worlds which have to rub along, getting to know each other and adapt, worthwhile. Saul's encounters, dilemmas and choices, Agatha's need to return home, her enthusiasm to learn and ability to make friends, together with the supporting characters' presence and influence makes The Accidental Time Traveller a pleasant, cosy read.'
--New View

'Young readers familiar with time transfers from TV will enjoy the situation and absorb some information about life 200 years ago along the way.'
-- School Librarian journal

'A good, solid adventure story that engages the reader throughout and moves towards a satisfying conclusion.'
-- Carousel

'I would highly recommend this book to adventure lovers'
--Rhona, aged 11, Flora Stevenson Primary

'I loved this book, it is the best I have ever read, I would read this again and again'
--Cera, aged 11, Law Primary School

'I have never been so inspired by a book'
--Rebecca, aged 10, Kilmartin Primary


Janis Mackay was born and grew up in Edinburgh, but moved to London to study journalism. She has an MA in Creative Writing and has held writer-in-residence posts in both Caithness and Sutherland. She currently lives in Edinburgh, where she teaches creative writing and works as a writer and storyteller. She is the author of the Magnus Fin series.

You can also visit the author's own website at


Don't miss the Discover Kelpies website for children with exclusive author interviews, fun stuff and latest gossip on your favourite Scottish stories.


If you like The Accidental Time Traveller, you'll love Janis Mackay's brilliant Magnus Fin series:
Magnus Fin and the Ocean Quest
Magnus Fin and the Moonlight Mission
Magnus Fin and the Selkie Secret

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