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The TV Time Travellers, by Pete Johnson

Zac and Izzy win a place on a new reality TV show, but they have no idea where they're going or what to expect ...They must live as if it's 1939, the start of World War Two. One by on they will be voted out by the viewing public. It's a hard life and, desperate to be the final winner, problems occur. When the live final arrives, the contestants and the audience will all be stunned by what occurs.

ISBN-10: 0440868629
ISBN-13: 978-0440868620

“The obvious theme is celebrity culture, but Johnson also talks about honesty, friendship, doing right by others, and about the process of grief, and there isn’t a trace of preachiness about it. I’m told Johnson keeps in contact with a panel of children so he can maintain a good understanding of their viewpoint, and it shows here. I think it will show to his young readers too. The emotional landscape is immediately familiar, the subject is popular and contemporary, and the writing is energetic, vivid and accessible.”
The Bookbag

"An exciting new story from Pete Johnson; who is fast becoming a favourite author among my Year Six pupils! This is a book perfectly suitable for boys and girls who want to learn a little bit more about the effect of the Second World War on the ‘Homefront’ and the personal experiences of young evacuees.

"The story offered so much more than a nostalgic look at evacuees during the Second World War. On the contrary, Johnson cleverly exploits contemporary themes of reality TV and ‘Celebrity’ obsession, whilst sensitively exposing, en route, the many emotions facing young children today. Subsequently, this book left me feeling reflective and with a small lump in my throat."
Laura Ciftci, School Librarian

Booksellers’ Choice: The Panel’s Choices for June

“Zac and Izzy are chosen to star in a new television reality show in The TV Time Travellers by Pete Johnson. This becomes a vehicle for thoughtful exploration of the nature of individual emotional truths and the way these become distorted by personal ambition, expectations of others and how we broach our pasts. The book’s ultra-modern concept, sassy characters and humorous asides all contribute to make this a highly accessible and engaging book. Not to be missed.”
Jake Hope, The Bookseller.

STAR READ: "Highly entertaining, unputdownable story from this accomplished author … it unfolds from two varying viewpoints which add to the pleasure and is full of surprises so you really don’t know where it is heading but can’t wait to find out."
Primary Times

"The scenes where the children revolt makes fascinating reading – The TV presenters do not get it all their own way! An entertaining and innovative story which will be enjoyed by most children."
M and C books

‘Another great humorous book from critically acclaimed Pete Johnson. An exciting story, perfect for boys and girls aged eleven or over.’ Literacy Times

‘The World War II allusions/descriptions are vivid, and it’s a book written with a pleasing directness and sureness which carry it along, buoyed up by a strong imagination. A DEFINITE WINNER.’ Chichester Observer

Some book group fans in Hertfordshire conduct an exclusive interview with Pete about The TV Time Travellers . . .

Question: Your new book has a very intriguing title. So what’s it at all about?

Pete: Well, it’s about a new reality programme that will take five modern children back in time to the start of the Second World War in September 1939. For three weeks these children will live exactly as the evacuees did. Only they will be filmed as well. And this is a competition too, so the evacuees will nominate who should leave. But the public decide who goes – and who wins. So really, it’s like Big Brother crossed with time travel.

I like that. And I suppose the five children chosen for the show are the main characters. So what are they like?

Pete: Well, I have some fun here. There are some wild characters like Izzy, who can’t believe she’s been picked as she doesn’t know anything about the Second World War.

So why has she been picked?

Pete: Ah, I can’t tell you that. You’ll have to read it and see.

So who else is there?

Pete: There’s Leo, a joker who likes to break rules. And Barney, who’s a ventriloquist and brings along a pet seal with him which he’s made from a sock. The seal is called Solly

I really like the sound of him – and Solly. So is ‘The TV Time Traveller’ a comedy like your recent books such as ‘Help I’m A Classroom Gambler,’ and ‘How to Train Your Parents?’

Pete: It is funny – I hope. And there are some big comic scenes. But it’s also a mystery and a bit of a thriller. And then there is a poignant character called Zac. His mum died in a car accident and he’s had to live with an aunt, who he hates. So he escapes into the Second World War. It becomes all he can think about and all he wants to think about. It’s as if he’s found a secret door which takes him instantly into another time. He just can’t wait to be an evacuee. But will the TV show be everything he expects?

Now you told us about four evacuees, but who’s the fifth one?

Pete: That’s Harriet, who looks like a life-size Barbie doll and who Izzy hates instantly. And, of course, they end up having to share a room.

Excellent! So where are these five evacuees taken?

Pete: To a farmhouse in Devon. They’re given gasmasks and wartime clothes. They can only eat food that was allowed in the war and they even have to use an outdoor loo.

Ugh! I bet they hate that.

Pete: They do too. It’s also very strict. The teachers who go with them are just like teachers from the wartime, saying: ‘Children must never answer back and must do what they are told at all times.’ The children are also advised to expect the unexpected.

I’m picking up a bit of sinister atmosphere from this book.

Pete: You could be right. But I can’t tell you anymore except the second half is full of surprises and shocks.

Is your book a sort of criticism of reality television?

Pete: Yes it is. This is not to say I don’t enjoy some reality television shows. I never miss, for instance, ‘The Apprentice’ and like ‘The X Factor.’ But I do worry about shows like ‘Boys and Girls Alone,’ which I think just exploit children. And often situations are set up in these shows just to promote conflict and heighten emotions.

I watch so many reality shows, so I think it’s good to have something about them in a book. Will it change my attitude?

Pete: I hope it will make you think a bit more about them!

Do you have a favourite scene?

Pete: Yes, when the new evacuees meet some of the old evacuees – including one of the boys who’d been evacuated to the same farm back in 1939. Zac is especially looking forward to meeting him.

Will this book help modern children understand what life in the Second World War was like?

Pete: I believe it will. I think it might also make them compare life today with life back then. Most of all I hope it’s a gripping yarn, full of laughs and twists and turns – and it might even make you cry a little.

Why, what happens to cause that?

Pete: Sorry, but I think I’ve told you too much already. I’ll just end by saying I had a fantastic time researching this book, including chatting with some people who were evacuated in 1939. That added a whole new dimension - and I hope I’ve captured something of their remarkable spirit in ‘The TV Time Travellers.’

Thanks a lot Pete.

Pete: It’s been a pleasure.  I just hope you like the book.