Johnny and the Bomb, the third installment of Terry Pratchett's Johnny Maxwell trilogy, features Johnny and his friends Yo-less, Bigmac, Wobbler, and Kirsty as unknowing time travelers. Finding Mrs. Tachyon, their designated neighborhood crazy person, hurt in an alley, the boys call 911 for help and watch the ambulance take her to the hospital. Johnny takes her shopping cart home for safe keeping, a random act of kindness that changes history because the cart is, in fact, a time machine. Soon Johnny and his friends are transported back to 1941 and given the opportunity to change not only the history of their town, it was destroyed during an air raid, but also their own family histories. Packed with quick and humorous dialog, interesting implications of changing history and intrepid time travelers trying to do the right thing, readers will enjoy the ride.
I picked this book off of the cart without any prior knowledge of the first two books of the series, but the book is a definite stand alone title. At times the plot was a bit convoluted while the characters bounced back and forth between periods in history, however the humor and smart dialogue compensated for this quite nicely. Pratchett deftly handled interesting social issues of the time with help of Yo-less and Kirsty: "It's just how he was brought up. You people can't expect us to rewrite history, you know -."
Readers may wonder about the time travel happening from 1996 to 1941 instead of from 2007 (I looked twice at the 2007 date on the copy I read after seeing the 1996 date in front cover). This book was originally published in England in 1996. It does not distract from the action taking place, but was puzzling to me.
I could not help thinking of the first Back to the Future movie when Marty (Michael J. Fox) is sent to the past and changes his own future.
Tags: Terry Pratchett, Johnny and the Bomb, Juvenile fiction, Time travel fiction, Johnny Maxwell series