Time Cat: The Remarkable Journeys of Jason and Gareth

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Time Cat: The Remarkable Journeys of Jason and Gareth Book Poster Image
A cat takes a boy back through time.

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages
Violence & Scariness

Some battle scenes, not very descriptive, and Jason is threatened several times.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that by today's standards some of this is uncomfortably stereotyped: For instance, the Japanese emperor Ichigo actually says, "Ah so!"

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byNSallie October 31, 2019

It's awesome!

Jason is an ordinary boy who quite by accident discovers that his cat can talk. The cat itself is a time machine who takes Jason on an adventure around the worl... Continue reading
Adult Written bysarah_from_yale April 9, 2008
Kid, 10 years old September 30, 2011

Great Book!

This is one of my favourites. A bit violent, but very good.
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008

History and fun!

I think it's an awesome book. It infuses history with an irresistible plot. The characters are rich, and full of feeling.

What's the story?

After an especially bad day Jason's cat, Gareth, reveals that he can talk, and that the nine-lives legend actually refers to a cat's ability to visit nine other lives, in nine different times and places. Soon the pair is off through the centuries, to visit the famous and the not-so-famous.

They meet a young daVinci in Italy, who is having trouble convincing his father to let him study art; a company of Roman soldiers who need a mascot; a Spanish captain in Peru; and others. Each is having some difficulty, and all either involve or are solved by -- a cat.

Is it any good?

Veteran author Lloyd Alexander's first book shows the promise that would make him one of the most well-known authors in children's literature, as well as some rookie clunkers. There's a sweetness to this story and a gentle diffidence that keeps the story at some emotional distance -- both a strength and a weakness. The scary parts are not very scary, and the humor is mildly amusing. It's interesting, well paced, and reassuring, a good bedtime book that won't keep young readers up late worrying.

Perhaps because of when it was written (1963) parts of it are uncomfortably stereotyped, especially the Japanese chapter. The biggest clunker is the ending, the old was-it-all-a dream-or-wasn't-it bit that is more tired now than ever, and was never a satisfying way to end a story. But up until then the book is pleasantly fascinating and may prompt some research, which may yield surprising results.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about cats through history. What kind of relationships do cats have with the historical figures that Jason and Gareth visit?

Book details

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