The Trouble with Time Travel by Stephen W. Martin
Illus. Cornelia Li . Owlkids, 2019.
Hardcover Picture book, 24pp.
This one is hilarious for many reasons, but that punchline…ugh, so good. And the mystery solved? Charming…and gorgeously illustrated.
I was so pleased to discover that Max is a girl with an Amelia Earhart doll and the ability to build a time travel device with “surprising” ease. It isn’t a baseball through the window, but frisbee missed by the dog mid-air that sails through an open door and smashes a family heirloom.
We learn of its origins as the relative glares down from her portrait. It’ll be fine, though, because time travel. And while it takes time and some humorous interludes to arrive at the, er, appropriate moment, Max comes to the conclusion that maybe time travel wasn’t a genius idea. She should just have come clean about breaking the vase…or other. Honestly, the lengths we go to to avoid such an unpleasant confrontation…I feel Max’s pain.
Max is an entertaining, relatable character and Martin has flawless timing with the story and its twists and turns. Li is as lively with detail, her artwork stunning and a joy to read. She adds a lot of texture to the characterization of Max and her dog Boomer, as well as the story’s adventures and mishaps.
The Trouble with Time Travel is a fun, funny book; and also may have some important messages children might glean.
Stephen W. Martin is the author of Robot Smash!, Charlotte and the Rock, and Stewart’s Best Pen. He has also written for Frederator’s Bravest Warriors and the Netflix series Trash Truck. Stephen resides in Los Angeles, California but misses Newfoundland.
Cornelia Li is a Chinese-born illustrator currently based in Toronto, Canada. Her work has been recognized by the Society of Illustration, American Illustration, Communication Arts, The Association of Illustrators, 3×3 Illustration, and others