The Time Pirate by Ted Bell

(Suggested reading level: Grades 5-8)

I read this aloud with Amber (10), and she and I have entirely different opinions of it, and, David, who listened in on most of it, pretty much agrees with her, which makes me think that I just wasn’t the right audience.

It’s 1940, Nick McIver, a 12 year-old boy must defend his home, a small British island, against the looming Nazi invasion. But the Nazis are not his only enemies; using a time-travel device invented by da Vinci, he also battles 18th-century pirates who’ve kidnapped his sister. To further confuse things, the pirates, who are equipped with a time-travel device of their own, threaten to change the outcome of the American Revolution. Nick feels compelled to help General Washington and his troops, even though doing so makes him a traitor, because he knows that the support of the United States will become crucial to the Allies in World War II.

Nick looked at Gunner, thinking about how to reply to the outrage at his plan. “Washington may have been England’s enemy then,” Nick replied, tracing de Grasse’s route north on the chart with his finger, “but his America is England’s only hope now.” (pg. 287, ARC)

First off, I’m not usually much of a fan of time travel; it just tends to get too confusing for me. War books are not typical reading for me either. Needless to say, I wasn’t a real fan of this book. I found it too long and overly-detailed. By the end, I just wanted it to be over, please.

Amber, however, loved it. She enjoyed all the swash-buckling adventure and the details of battles. The action was exciting and she kept wanting to hear more of the story, as did David. At one point, he said we had to wait for him to read more of one of the battles. I mentioned to them that I could do without all the detail, but I was informed that I was wrong, that it was cool and made the story feel more real. Like I said, I think it just wasn’t the right audience.

I will say, though, that it had a lot of historical details tucked in, both about World War II and the American Revolution. I can certainly see how it makes history fun and interesting for middle school kids, especially when the hero of the story is a character their own age.

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Published April 13, 2010 by St. Martin’s Griffin
Nick McIver Time Adventure #2
454 pages

Challenge: 100+

I received my advance readers’ edition from the publisher and the above is my honest opinion. I am an Amazon associate.


  • This looks like a great book. I will try it on my son, he reads a little above his grade level but if it does not work out now it will later.

  • rockcod

    Ah, time travel… a convenient plot device utterly devoid of reality. A few nuggets of history at the expense of physics. I’m with you on this one.

  • Debbie

    It helps tremendously if you read the first book in the series, Nick of Time. You are correct in stating that if you do not like time travel books, you will not like these. However, these books keep younger readers interested by all of the detail you, as a mother, found overbearing. It also provides some history, which is helpful not only for the children to understand the 12-yr old’s freedom; but helps children understand some of the historical battles / wars.

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