Sunday, November 29, 2009

Toby Jones and Mystery of Time-Travel Tour

Toby Jones and Mystery of Time-Travel Tour
Michael Panckridge and Brett Lee
Ages 10+

The dedication in the first page of the book 'Toby Jones and the Mystery of the Time-Travel Tour" says -"To the fielder at mid-on who won't get a bowl and bats down the order, but who loves the game as much as anyone". Michael Panckridge won me there with this dedication. The book seems to have been written specifically for me.

Well, I was the person who could never bowl a decent over and batted down the order; included into the team only for showing up the required number of persons in the team. I was nicknamed Traicos by my local gully cricket team-mate, the guy who was in Zimbabwe team when he was 45 years old. Traicos was a highly accurate bowler and adept fielder for his age, but I was not. I was named Traicos because I had reactions of a normal 45 year old! I was not the guy in the mid-on, I was the guy in the third man when we were playing a leg-side only game! In spite of being bad at it and getting constantly taunted for being a book worm; I would never miss a game.

Toby Jones, the hero of the book, a boy of around 13-14 years old is not only one of the biggest all-rounders of his school; he also has an unusual gift. A gift to time travel to the games that were played long ago. All he has to do is get hold of the old copy of Wisden and read through the match that he wants to travel to. The book is a racy read. It seamlessly switches one story to another as he describes some interesting school matches in which Toby Jones plays to the problems that he and his friends face while they time travel; and the mysterious and ruthless Philip Smale, the manager of the rival team named Scorpions(can there any other obvious name for a ruthless team with a very fast bowler as their main weapon?).

It is a fascinating concept - the ability to time travel to matches that were played long back. Imagine travelling back to the days of Don Bradman or the fiery Andy Roberts or Holding. If I had that ability, I would probably go back to that exhibition match where Tendulkar was introduced to the world - where he faced the arguably one of the best leg-spinners in the modern era Abdul Qadir (admirers of Share Warne, please excuse!) and hit him for 3 sixers in an over.

Here is a book that invokes the madness and the passion of cricket and adds some more fuel to it. It never occurred to me that a book can be written about cricket, time-travel and mystery hunt all mixed up together. Michael does it in great style. If you or your kid is a great fan of cricket, passionate about it - here is a book that you and your kids will love.

From one cricket mad nation Australia, Michael Panckridge will be in another cricket mad nation India for the Bookaroo Festival in Delhi. He will also be here in Bengaluru soon and I would like to ask him about the match he would like to time travel to.

Update: This book was recommended by the Aravinda. Thank you Aravinda.


SoulSpace said...

Amazing concept for a book...
something about men/boys and a book...i'm sure this takes the cake...!
waiting to read yr interview!

sathish said...

ssstoryteller - yeah. it is amazing. The first time I picked it up with a lot of hesitation; but, it was a romp through out.

I am still working on the interview though. will keep you posted about it in this space.

Tharini said...

Wow! Oh wow! Time travel and cricket! Is there a more potent combination??? Its staggeringly amazing, the concepts which are born into books...can't wait for the interview, and his answer to your question! I just love your unusual, off the beaten track selections!

Praba Ram said...

hmm...I know now what to get my bigboy, the husband for his upcoming birthday...(for a happy dose of cricket memories from childhood..:-))

Love your offbeat picks! Thank you!!

Sheela said...

Time travel to any old match? How interesting, Satish - and I could see your passion about cricket in your review as well!

Anonymous said...

Hello - it's michael panckridge here, author of the Toby Jones series and writing from India - what a wonderful, exhilarating country! Thank you for your blog here - what a question to ponder... the game I would go back and visit if I could travel through time, like Toby Jones can... I think I would have to go and watch Don Bradman - arguably Australia's greatest ever batsman. So back to Leeds I would go to see him score 300 runs in a day!! I look forward to my visit to Bangalore and perhaps meeting some cricket and book lovers there! Best wishes, Michael

sathish said...

Hi Michael,

Thanks for dropping by here.

Watching Don making 300 a day will be something.

Poppy said...

Oh wow - a comment from the man himself. Cricket is beyond me, but it's such a fascinating concept this is!

Choxbox said...

sounds fascinating sathish! picking up this book asap!

utbtkids said...

I am not a cricket person. Well, my inability to catch a ball makes me 'not any kind of sports person'. But I understand the synergy and the over whelming feeling of oneness cricket matches bring.

From your review, there is something basic that appeals to every human being cricket fan or not. To me it was the wish to be there in person to witness/be a part of something great.

Anonymous said...

Hi again - here are some answers to some EXCELLENT questions - have a read and please respond with your own thoughts!!

1.How did I hit upon the idea of combining sports writing and fantasy?

Well - I think the easy answer is they are both passions of mine. I am always saying to young writers that it's a great idea (esp. if stuck for writing ideas!) to write about things you're passionate about - for me that is sport (cricket) and time travel. And cricket has such wonderful history - it demands some time travel for my characters (and me!!) to go back and visit great matches from the past...

2. My thoughts on boys' reading habits compared to girls - it's a really REALLY interesting topic - as a boy I used to love reading sports related stuff - info, facts, scores, numbers, results, records - reading for information. Of course not ALL boys are like this; not at all. But that was the way for me - it wasn't until I got to about year 7 that i started to enjoy reading novels. I think it took me a little longer to make that emotional connection with books - once a reader does that - they are off and away with the wonder of books...

3. Test matches over? Gosh,I hope not. As long as there are Ashes Test matches....

4. My favourite cricketer at the moment Michael Hussey!

5. I loved coming up with the idea of the Master Blaster - the virtual cricket machine - I think I would like to face Shane Warne... NOT the fast bowlers!!

6. Yes - girls do play in boys' teams; it is not THAT common, but it certainly happens - esp. with younger aged teams.

I look forward to following the chat about cricket and books!!

sathish said...

michael, thanks for the responses.

Regarding boys reading habits, I remember one of the fellow saffrontree blogger wrote sometime back that boys seem to get attached to a central and strong figure. A book that contains a strong figure seem to be more attractive for the young kids. From what I noticed with my son, he prefers books where the main protagonist is a boy and not a girl!

btw, I was hoping sehwag would have beaten Don Bradman's record of 309 in a single day yesterday. alas, it did not turn out to be that way.

Meera Sriram said...

Ok, let me 'straight drive' my point - time travel and cricket -the book 'swept' me off my feet and your review 'bowled me over':)

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