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Hugh T McCracken

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· To Read the Bones

· Masters of the Hunt

· Heads up for Harry

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Books by Hugh T McCracken
The Time Drum
by Hugh T McCracken  Artwork by Angela Boni 

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Books by Hugh T McCracken
· Ring of Stone
· Masters of the Hunt
· Heads up for Harry
· The Knotted Cord (Alistair Kinnon)
· The Tangled Skein (Alistair Kinnon)
       >> View all 11


Young Adult/Teen

Publisher:  Bewrite Books, UK ISBN-10:  1904224997 Type:  Fiction


Copyright:  Mar 1 2002

Barnes &
BeWrite Books

Kevin, the victim of a bully at school, is only too glad to go to Scotland with his mother for the summer vacation. There he finds an ancient drum that takes him back to an ancient time where he finds out there are more than one kind of bully. Can the lessons in self-confidence and self-respect Kevin learns in the past be carried back and applied in his own time?

Whilst on vacation in his family's home country of Scotland, Kevin strays into a mysterious room at the back of a dusty antique shop where he discovers an ancient hand drum dating back to the thirteenth century.
When he beats the battered old instrument,the teenager is transported back in time, where he finds himself marooned in an era of inhuman cruelty his school history books had never come near to describing.
With only his drum and a donkey called Sarah for company, he sets out to dodge death and torture until he is made the slave of an arrogant young aristocrat -- but he finds a boy he must save from murder at the hands of hired cut throats.

"Will the Duke be safe tonight?'
"If the minstrels do come to murder William, it will be you in the bed, not him."
Kevin had read somewhere about a goat being tied up as bait for a tiger ... now he knew how the goat must have felt. Surely Lady Mary didn't mean to let him be murdered. She must have a plan.

Professional Reviews
Review by Chuck Gregory on
The Time Drum by Hugh McCracken (BeWrite Books, 162 pages, paperback, ISBN 1-904224-99-7) Hugh McCracken’s The Time Drum is an enchanting tale about a boy who is making the transition into manhood. It is refreshing that the lessons he learns, and the maturity that he develops, have to do with respect for others, the attendant respect for self, and the emergence of strong moral values. Coming of age this may be, but it isn’t about sex! Eighth grader Kevin MacDonald has been bullied by Matt Calder ever since his family moved to Canada four years ago. Kevin brushes off Joshua Reynolds’ attempt to strike up a friendship when Joshua arrives three days before the end of the school year. Kevin stutters in embarrassment when Joshua is harassed by Calder, and turns over his break money as he does every day. Later, Calder forces Kevin and Joshua into a makeshift boxing ring for an impromptu match that neither wants. Commiserating on the way home, they part — not friends, but at least not enemies. Summer vacation finds young Kevin winging his way to Scotland, his ancestral home, in the company of his Mom. Bored while he looks at “one more darned shop,” he is approached by an old man, who says, “There are things of more interest to boys such as you through here.” He follows the old man into an even older room, full of objects from the past. After inspecting knives and swords that appear to have fresh blood on them, and largely ignoring the tales the old man tells him about these historic artefacts, he picks up something “like a tambourine, but without jangles.” It is a bodhran (pronounced bowrron) and it seems to have some affinity for Kevin — the candles in the little room flicker, his forearm tingles, his confidence surges. He wants it, but knows he can’t afford to buy anything here, knows his mother won’t spend much. But the old man tells him, “She doesn’t have the coin for it and never will, but you do. Take it, Kevin. As long as you please it, it will stay with you. You have all of time in your hands.” Back in the main room of the store, his mother consents to buy the little drum, if it’s not too much, but the shopkeeper refuses to accept payment for something that isn’t part of his stock — and the beaded curtain now reveals only a brick wall. So starts Kevin’s eerie adventure in the past, for when he later plays on the bodhran certain rhythms the old man had demonstrated, he finds himself transformed and transported into an earlier time. There, he is a Moor — like Kevin, half black and half white. He is the ‘property’ of minstrels who are plotting to kill the boy Duke William in the climax of a treacherous power struggle amongst the nobility of the time. Kevin saves William and the two learn to be friends despite the differences in their stations. Kevin is unfailingly loyal to the mule, Sarah, who has protected him from the minstrels with her vicious side kicks. He grudgingly offers William the respect due his rank, but refuses to lose to him at chess or otherwise defer to him as expected. William learns that respect must be earned in order for it to mean anything. Together they work to overcome the treachery of William’s uncle who is trying to take over the dukedom. I will not spoil the story by revealing its ending, nor describe how the health or life of that alternate body might affect the health or life of Kevin’s modern one. Suffice it to say that courage, once learned, has a startling effect on the hollow bluster of a bully — and that friendship and respect given in one time produce the capacity for friendship and respect in another. McCracken is reputed to teach so subtly that his youthful audience does not realize it is learning. Perhaps this will imbue the love of learning that has been so much a part of my life that I do not remember any other way. At least it should produce a healthy curiosity about past events, and at the same time demonstrate the value of self-control and self-respect. And best of all — The Time Drum is a good story! Review by Chuck Gregory on

Reader Reviews for "The Time Drum"

Reviewed by Chrissy McVay 12/17/2005
Judging from the blurb and review, sounds like a good 'coming-of-age' story for teens and pre-teens...

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