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Time Cat

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Gareth's definitely no ordinary cat. For one thing, he can talk. For another, he's got the power to travel through time. And the instant he tells this to Jason, the two of them are in ancient Egypt, on the first of nine amazing adventures that Jason will never forget.

206 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1963

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About the author

Lloyd Alexander

112 books1,953 followers
Lloyd Chudley Alexander was an influential American author of more than forty books, mostly fantasy novels for children and adolescents, as well as several adult books. His most famous contribution to the field of children's literature is the fantasy series The Chronicles of Prydain. The concluding book of the series, The High King , was awarded the Newbery Medal in 1969. Alexander's other books have also won the National Book Award and the American Book Award. He was also one of the creators of Cricket Magazine.

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5 stars
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3 stars
2,024 (29%)
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106 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 579 reviews
Profile Image for Jerry.
4,617 reviews54 followers
July 27, 2016
I like cats.

I like time travel stories.

I like kiddie entertainment.

So, you'd probably expect I'd like this book...

...and I did!
Profile Image for Caitlin.
44 reviews
April 21, 2008
Summary: Gareth's definitely not an ordinary cat. For one thing, he can talk.For another, he's got the power to travel through time- Anywhere, any time, any country, any century, Gareth tells Jason. And in the wink of a very special cat's eye, they're off. From ancient Egypt to Japan, the land of young Leonardo da Vinci to the town of a woman accused of witchcraft, Jason and Gareth are whisked from place to place and friend to foe. Full of fun, excitement, and a good dose of history, here's a fantastic tale that grabs the imagination and takes it far and wide, on the adventure of not one but nine amazing lifetimes.
Conclusion: it was a pretty good ending.
The good guys are: Gareth, (the time cat) Jason,
My review:
It was a AWESOME book! Anyone who adores cats and likes magic will love this book.

Profile Image for Tamara.
114 reviews19 followers
January 22, 2009
Okay I liked the premise but not the execution. They just seem to be jumping around to different times and countries without any real direction. Reads more like a series of short stories.
Profile Image for Manybooks.
3,013 reviews104 followers
January 22, 2019
Although the general premise of Loyd Alexander's 1963 novel Time Cat looked both interesting and intriguing enough (as a talking feline with the ability to deliberately and with purpose travel through time sure did sound right up my proverbial alley so to speak), truth be told and sadly, I have seldom found a children's novel this tedious and massively yawn-inducing boring, For while I generally tend to enjoy episodic stories, I have never (and this since childhood) all that much appreciated formulaic repetitiveness. And with that salient fact in mind, I am sorry to say that Time Cat is in my humble opinion nothing BUT the latter, with EVERY single time travelling into history episode commencing with Jason and his feline companion Gareth moving through time to meet some historic person whom they must enlighten about cats, then getting into a threatening situation that is always remedied in the proverbial nick of time and often even through deus ex machina like occurrences at that, only for Jason and Gareth to once again enter into another totally the same type of episode (where basically the only differences are that our time travellers are now residing in a different historical period and have to enlighten another set of people about cats, with the resultant threatening dangers once again being mitigated just before tragedy is about to strike and so on and so on and so on).

And furthermore, the nine historical vignettes of Time Cat (ranging from Ancient Egypt to pre Revolution America), they sadly and annoyingly all (and at least to and for me) remain woefully one-dimensional and are therefore also never really fully developed, realised in an in any manner even remotely descriptive and detailed enough a fashion to satisfy my own personal and academic interest in history (not to mention that the 1600 episode in Germany is also painfully and annoyingly historically inaccurate, for while in the 1500s and 1600s, witch trials and witch burnings were indeed a German phenomenon, they were not EVER as it seems to actually be insinuated by both Jason and Gareth specifically German, as similar such witch crazes with hangings, burnings and other similar horrors were also taking place in France, Austria, Italy, basically in much of what is now considered Western Europe). Combined with an ending that totally seems to just fizzle out, and the annoyingly frustrating truth of the matter that both Jason and Gareth come across as not only rather preachy but also often quite intimidating if not even bullying with regard to "educating" the people they meet during their time travelling adventures about cats (with message-heavy moralising so one-sided that it really almost turns my stomach at times), at best Time Cat has felt like a combination cat and history school lesson, but one that is both tediously dragging and sadly often not even all that factually correct (in other words, no, I have not at ALL enjoyed Time Cat and have found it rather a major waste of my reading time).
Profile Image for Amanda.
840 reviews344 followers
September 20, 2018
DNF at 54 pages. This wasn't for me. There was very little world building to this episodic book. I wanted to know why the cat took his boy to these different times, but it seemed random, like the author just thought they were cool and different places to explore. The episodes were also bland. The boy and cat are kidnapped and then have to teach the man who is holding them captive about cat behavior. He then has a positive relationship with cats and becomes a better person. The the boy and cat peace out and move on to the next random time and place. At best this would be 3 stars, but I don't want to spend the time finishing it.
Profile Image for Ms. B.
2,798 reviews35 followers
July 9, 2022
Cats + time travel = Time Cat
What a fun combination! Kids and tweens who like cats will enjoy this story about John and his cat Gareth who travel to different time periods and places from 2700 BC to the present (also known as 1963 as that is when this book was first published).
I loved how each time period and place received two chapters. In some ways, it was like nine separate stories in one. If you are only able to read for a few minutes at a time, this is the perfect book for you.
Profile Image for Kylie.
239 reviews44 followers
May 14, 2013
I loved this book- Lloyd Alexander certainly knows a lot about history- and cats. He captures the quirky behavior and manerisms of cats perfectly, and really makes me want to go home and spend some good quality time with my own cats. In Time Cat, the reader follows a boy and his cat as they travel through time to experience many monumental moments in history. The book devotes two or three chapters to each time period- just enough to get the point accross and move on. It is also historically acurate, and does a great job of making these historical moments come to life for young readers. To me, the most memorable section followed a young Da Vinci in 1445 Italy. The chapter portrays Da Vinci as curious and inquisical, as well as brilliant. He takes the time to watch how the world around him works, and uses his observations to better his work. The boy and his cat inspire young Da Vinci to try his hand at painting, and they move to their next destination in time knowing that they helped Da Vinci to discover the artist he was meant to become.

All in all- great read. I recommend it to everyone.
Profile Image for Kogiopsis.
759 reviews1,454 followers
February 18, 2021
Read as part of my ongoing shelf audit. Verdict: Cute, but not something with further reread potential, even viewed through nostalgia goggles.

The concept of a time-travelling cat is cute, but kind of pointless, and the brief vignettes in each time and place don't really connect. I know there's something at the end about all of it being intended to teach Jason about himself, but that didn't quite land for me. It was a fun series of historical romps, but ultimately not particularly fulfilling as an overall story.

(With that said, I think it'd make a cute graphic novel - mostly because there would be a lot of kittens involved.)
239 reviews12 followers
September 11, 2022
This funny novel tells the tale of Jason and his cat, Gareth. Jason has been banished to his room by his mother after misbehaviour, and Gareth takes this opportunity to start talking. He advises Jason that cats don't have nine lives, but they can visit nine lives, and that is the reason that cats so often can't be found - they are travelling. Jason thinks this is a cool idea and asks to go along on Gareth's trips. They start with Egypt, where cats are worshipped, then to Rome and Britain in 55 A.D. and Ireland to visit with St Patrick, then Imperial Japan, followed by a trip to Leonardo da Vinci's place, a visit to Don Diego in Peru, the Isle of Man to see the Manx cats, to Germany during the witch hunts and finally to Boston during the American Revolution. In each adventure, Jason teaches the people that he meets something about cats, (they can't be trained to do tricks, they basically only do what they want to do) and they teach him a life lesson (about confidence or the value of curiosity for example). When he and Gareth return to his bedroom, it's time for supper, and he goes downstairs, considerably more mature than he was earlier that afternoon. It's a good idea for a novel, lots of funny lines and a little adventure and history along the way.
Profile Image for SuperHeroQwimm.
135 reviews29 followers
November 26, 2016
This was what I would consider a bunch of short stories, and while they were entertaining I'm super disappointed because it would have been so easy to connect them. It seems almost offensively lazy on the authors behalf lol
Profile Image for ReadBecca.
806 reviews87 followers
April 6, 2022
I was surprised by how entertaining this was, though quite simple as a story. Jason is one day lamenting the lack of nine lives, to his surprise the cat Gareth chimes in that he doesn't have 9 lives, but can jump back to 9 lives. Meaning, the plot is really jumping in time to these distinct historical moments - Ancient Egyptian cat worship, Britons domesticating wild cats, a young Leonardo painting a cat for the first time, Imperial Japan finding it's cat obsession for the first time. It was adventurous and entertaining in a way that I found really engrossing, very easy to fly through. I think this would be brilliant for young readers.
Profile Image for Reiley Whalen.
55 reviews2 followers
January 30, 2022
I had this book read to me one summer a few years back. I never forgot. I fell in love with the book from the beginning. Recently I had been looking for the story but didn't have it. So as an end of the school year present last year it was gifted to me. I was so excited. So now I had finally gotten to read it and regale old memories of hot summer days spent inside listening to the chapters. I love this book.
Profile Image for Geordie.
261 reviews28 followers
January 11, 2022
'Time Cat' is the story of Jason, a typical boy, and Gareth, his magic cat, using Gareth's powers to travel through time.

Now, I love almost everything Lloyd Alexander has written, but this book was mostly a disappointment. First and foremost, I had no idea what the book was trying to do. It sure didn't feel like it was trying to teach any history. Gareth and Jason travel to several different points in time, but the only description of the time is surface level details we could have gotten from the blurb in a children's encyclopedia. What was the point of this book? What was it trying to say, and who was it for? Most of the visits to another time end with Jason giving somebody a lesson about cats, and then he and Gareth take off. If the object of this book was to teach kids about cats, then why bother with the time travel? And why repeat the same 'don't try to change cats - they are what they are' lesson five times?

The book also suffered from lame stakes. Jason and Gareth never seemed to be in any real danger. They were captured four (or five?) times, ultimately it felt like Alexander couldn't think of another way to put any risk into the story. And what was the risk? We never found out if there are special requisites for Gareth to be able to travel through time, so, why didn't they just time travel away all those times they got captured?

Compared to Alexander's other books there is very little emotion or character development; I don't hate 'Time Cat', but recommend you not bother with it.
Profile Image for Rachel.
225 reviews7 followers
October 25, 2009
All cats can talk if they want, but most cats don't wish to do so. Gareth, however, is unique: he talks to Jason, his boy companion (cats don't have owners), and takes Jason with him on nine adventures, one for each of his nine lives. They start in ancient Egypt, and travel forward through history in leaps and bounds, experiencing some of history's most pivotal ages and meeting some of its most colorful characters.

It's a delightful romp through history, and my daughter and I found occasion to pause many times and discuss historical eras and events. But if she were reading it on her own, I'm sure she would have missed many of the historical references -- St. Patrick and the snakes, for example. And I'm not sure the description was sufficiently indelible that she'd be able to recall it when she finally does learn about St. Patrick (in school or elsewhere). Granted, my daughter's only eight, but I think even twelve- or thirteen-year-olds, for whom the book is really written, would miss a lot of the references. I'm sure my sister and I both did, when we read it years ago.

The story is no less enjoyable for that, but I do think Alexander could have more fully explained the context of some of the periods into which Gareth and Jason travel. Nevertheless, it's a fun read with some pretty impressive characters and funny moments. Overall, a cute book for younger readers, with something in it for the grown-ups, too... and with some great teaching moments. :)
August 27, 2013
Frankly, this story made me feel as though it had been written by a child. The plot was so thin I could've cut through it with a butter knife. To be honest, I couldn't even finish the whole book. Jason, a young boy around the age of nine, discovers that his cat can speak and time travel through simple conversation; he seems completely unfazed by this new development.

To be honest, our two time travellers seem like an adorable couple. However this avenue was never pursued, but simply hinted at the idea meaninglessly. Now I understand that this is a children's novel, but it seemed like these characters had a wonderful relationship though covered in inscrutable debauchery. An Impossible situation of intelligent words thatched from getter's vehemence and words i dont even know.6ueyu!eyjdgndyikh cat human love <33 i ship it!! Garreth should turn into a human and dress up as a furry. Also Jason should wear stilts. just sayin. :3 i feel like gareth should touch Jason's face more often. They should have a dinosaur and build their house on its back. They could have their own sitcom showing their suburban life in which gareth is a successful businessman/ cat and jason is a stay at home mom. Also hello to jason and gareth, i hope that this has been a very informational review. smiles.

CAN YOU TELL ME HOW TO GET, HOW TO GET TO SESAME STREET!!!!!!!!
Profile Image for Jacob.
879 reviews48 followers
June 10, 2016
A nice, light romp through several historical vignettes from the perspective of cats in history. This is Alexander's first book written for youth and his style is very apparent, especially when he's writing dialogue between boys and girls. It's not as enjoyable as the The Book of Three series or the overlooked gem The Illyrian Adventure, but it's also quite possibly easier to enjoy for a slightly younger audience than those.

The story is of a boy who discovers that instead of having nine lives, cats can go to nine different times and places in history. His cat elects to take him on visits to ancient Egypt, Rome, and South America; medieval Japan, Ireland, and Germany; renaissance Italy; and the American revolution. The book has a clearly educational angle to these visits, but the characters are still enjoyable and the vignettes have enough plot to be engaging.
279 reviews
December 5, 2018
I think it is a very good book for young children. Some books can bring something to all ages but this one is meant for children. The writer blends historical facts with an adventure story.
Profile Image for Kim.
63 reviews
June 5, 2007
I had heard that I would enjoy Lloyd Alexander and, when I asked for his books, I mistakenly assumed that he wrote one long series... As a result, I ended up with this book, which is great for young readers. It walks you through different periods and famous people/locations (even if the descriptions are a bit unvaried and sterotypical). As an adult reader, it left something to be desired.
Profile Image for Kris Sellgren.
1,054 reviews21 followers
December 9, 2014
An utterly charming story about a time-traveling cat and his boy. It starts in ancient Egypt (naturally), and hops forward through interesting times in Europe, Asia, South America, and North America. Visits to Leonardo da Vinci and witch-hunts in Germany are thought-provoking, while the Roman Empire and Imperial Japan are simply fun.
Profile Image for Juho Pohjalainen.
Author 5 books241 followers
April 29, 2020
Great many of the people in history turned out to be a lot more ignorant of cats than I might have imagined. Funny, that.

But then, the ending sort of gives a convenient explanation to it all.
Profile Image for Zp.
6 reviews
June 19, 2019
This book and how the book was written is so unique to the other books. The connection between the main character and the cat is very interesting too about how they communicate with each other. Time Cat really reminded me of Peabody and Sherman and the story is adventurous and makes me feel like whats going on in the book is going on right here, right now. I feel like the time that Brian and Gareth were in each place was a bit too short. I would want there to be at least 5 chapters for each time period. The title of the book is not very descriptive but overall this is an amazing book and I recommend reading it on a comfy Saturday morning.
Profile Image for Joan.
1,941 reviews
October 26, 2021
This was the book that first made me love history. I always loved cats, so I’m sure that is why I first picked up the book. But this book was the first that showed me that history is no more and no less than his-story. With ‘his’ being used for all sexes. I just read it again around fifty years after the first time, and found it as enchanting as I did then. Jason has just been sent to his room as punishment and is miserable. He discovers his cat Gareth can talk and travel to different times and places: 9 places and times as opposed to 9 lives. Jason begs to see those places and times. Will he get to see them? Will he and Gareth survive them? Will Jason learn about those places and finally, will Jason learn about himself? Read and find out!

These delightful stories are also about every boy and girl beginning to grow up. It is also about a delightful cat who is wise and solemn, kittenish and playful. Like most cats, mysterious yet cuddly.

Highly recommended! Give to kids who aren’t too sure they like to read but love cats. By the end of this book, they will love reading!
January 10, 2023
Well, I must say, Diahan shares a shocking amount of similarity to another red headed girl Lloyd Alexander introduced us to. Let me share a few excerpts:

‘“If you refuse,” Diahan warned, “he’ll be furious. And for the matter of that, so will I.” She flashed her eyes at him. “If you won’t be court magician instead of that silly Lugad, I’ll not speak to you again!”’

And:

‘Diahan was so annoyed at Jason’s letting his opportunity slip that she refused to speak to him, except to remind him, several times, that she wasn’t speaking to him.’

If she is not an iteration of Eilonwy…than I can’t recognize peas in a pod when I see them.

Other than that, this work differed greatly from the other Lloyd Alexander books I have read, yet still with his charming storytelling. It was more episodic, and not really one long adventure. Some parts cute…some parts shrug.
Profile Image for Chay.
129 reviews16 followers
February 8, 2020
My rating: 3.5/5

A fun trip down memory lane. Time Cat is one of my childhood favorites and is about some things I like most: cats, time travel, and foreign places.

I think Lloyd Alexander's writing may be difficult for young children to understand. Strangely it bothered me less reading Time Cat than it when I struggled through The Book of Three last summer. I enjoyed the didactic moments in the story and believe they can apply to both kids and adults.
Profile Image for Cienna.
467 reviews3 followers
October 27, 2021
A fun short kid's story that has aged poorly in some aspects but the overall concept is creative. Would love a modern rewrite of this book.
Profile Image for Zak.
112 reviews
August 22, 2022
I have to say this was a fair book. I would have liked for Jason to learn a lesson from each time period they visited. The time traveling part was the only thing I enjoyed about it
Profile Image for Ameya.
163 reviews5 followers
January 6, 2022
A magical story, Lloyd Alexander's Time Cat transports the reader around the world and across the ages. Gareth is a special cat, with the ability to travel in time. He takes his human companion along on his adventures, and together they explore history, making it from Ancient Egypt all the way to the American Revolutionary War. A great book for children, but a wonderful escape for adults, too.

Thank you, Jack, for sharing one of your favorite books with me!
Profile Image for elise rose.
338 reviews1 follower
Want to read
August 6, 2021
The cover alone plonks me right back down next to my Hello Kitty radio
Profile Image for Bibliothecat.
552 reviews52 followers
August 8, 2018


Jason's cat Gareth can speak to humans - if he wants to. Not only that, but he can travel through time. When he feels the time is right, he takes Jason on a journey that leads them from Ancient Egypt to the American civil war where they get tangled up in tricky situations and befriend more than just one other cat.

This book is easily summed up by calling it a disappointment. It's certainly not a bad book or story - it's just that it had so much promise but ultimately turned out to be neither here nor there. A book that combines cats and time travel sounded promising enough. Then the list of places they'd be travelling through featured some of the most interesting: Ancient Egypt, Japan, Ireland and medieval Germany. It promised such a rich story! And yet I can't remember reading a more boring book.

The problem might simply be that this is a children's book. Mind you, I love children's books but I always feel there are two different kinds: those that can be enjoyed by children and grownups alike and those that really just seem to work for younger readers. It kept things too simple and we never truly got to explore any of the places.

I think the author captured Gareth's personality well - if cats would talk to us I can certainly see them say things in a way Gareth does. And while the cat theme was one of the reasons I wanted to read this - sometimes it almost annoyed me. There were too many cat references and too much preaching about how to treat a cat.

I still gave this book 2.5/5 stars because I can see this working well when read by or for a child as well as for the original idea. Nonetheless, this book was more of a chore and I don't think I will pick it up again. It's such a shame too!
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