Time Cat: The Remarkable Journeys of Jason and Gareth

Common Sense Media says

A cat takes a boy back through time.





What parents need to know

Positive messages
Not applicable
Violence & scariness

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

Not applicable

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!"

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Kids say

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.

Families can talk 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

Author:Lloyd Alexander
Illustrator:William Sokol
Genre:Fairy Tale
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Henry Holt & Company, Inc.
Publication date:May 22, 2005
Number of pages:211
Publisher's recommended age(s):10 - 14

This review of Time Cat: The Remarkable Journeys of Jason and Gareth was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 10 years old September 30, 2011

Great Book!

This is one of my favourites. A bit violent, but very good.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Adult Written bysarah_from_yale April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
Kid, 12 years old April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

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.


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