The Book that Proves Time Travel Happens
By Henry Clark
Little, Brown and Company, 2015


The Book that Proves Time Travel Happens (TBTPTTH) is a children's/young adult science fiction novel. Other than the time travelling bit, this is very much in the same vein as Blue Balliett's Chasing Vermeer series, albeit a bit sillier.

Ambrose is having a hard time. His father has recently come out as trans, which neither Ambrose's mother nor Dad's employer is very happy with. But he's not transgender nor a transvestite; he's trans-temporal, feeling that he was born in the wrong time. Mostly this just expresses itself in dressing in historical costumes, but dressing up in full Samurai regalia isn't really appropriate when you're a middle school teacher... nor, really, is it appropriate at the dinner table.

What do you do when you are worried that your parents are about to break up? Well, if you're Ambrose, you visit a sideshow fortune teller, discover that you have psychic powers, and are unwillingly dragged along on a time-travelling adventure in which you learn the value of accepting differences, following your heart, and historical crossdressing.

This is one of the small-but-growing genre of children's books that include interesting information as a pervasive part of their setting and drivers of the plot. Blue Balliett and Rebecca Stead are excellent examples of this trend, and Henry Clark is adding his voice into the mix. TBTPTTH gives kids a good introduction to the I Ching, Morse code, and the Fugitive Slave Act, along with many various bits of archaic technology, Chinese history, and prehistoric apes.

I highly recommend this novel to anyone who likes 'smart' children's literature but also can handle good doses of silly throughout. Portions of this book require some suspension of disbelief (I mean, even more than most time travel tales), and the author expects to get some laughs out of things like naming his characters Killbreath or Dinklehooper, which is more amusing if you are twelve. But it is a quick read, and well done for its target age group. If you are looking for something a bit heavier (but equally silly), Clark's What We Found in the Sofa and How it Saved the World is perhaps a better book, at least from a (slightly more) grown-up perspective.

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