In search of Refinnej and the tale of her time traveling brother.
August 31, 2020 6:07 AM   Subscribe

I've been searching in vain for a children's book about a time traveling boy who gets (unwillingly?) swept up in some sort of time travel scenario. While I don't remember it as well as I'd like, I do have a few concrete details that I've never forgotten. Can you help me find it?

The boy in the book is around 11 or 12 and the book seems to be aimed at that age group rather than young children. His first name might have been something short with an O in it, like Thomas or Scott. I would have read it sometime in the mid-80s, probably around 1985-1986. It was a paperback with a cover that reminded me of a choose your own adventure book even though it wasn't written in that style. I'm guessing it was around 100-150 pages, long enough to have adventures in several time periods. I have a fuzzy memory that there may have been black and white hand drawn illustrations about once or twice a chapter.

The most specific things that I remember are that he went back in time to medieval England (probably around the 1400s) and he also went forward to a future where his family was the same but for some reason people spelled their names backward. His sister, of course, was the aforementioned Refinnej.

I'm usually pretty good at sussing stuff like this out on the internet but this book seems to have missed being catalogued by many of the library and regular search engines. Have any of you ever seen or heard of this book?
posted by i feel possessed to Media & Arts (6 answers total)
Part of this sounds like the book Half Magic by Edward Eager. Apparently this was a short series...maybe the other books in the series go other places in time and you read them all? I only read Half Magic.
posted by phunniemee at 6:59 AM on August 31, 2020 [2 favorites]

Was it one of The Time Keeper series?
posted by MonkeyToes at 10:55 AM on August 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

Could it be Bob Fulton's Terrific Time Machine? Published by Bantam Skylark, so the cover has some similarities with Choose Your Own Adventure; the protagonist goes both backwards and forwards in time, and a photo I found online of pages from the previous book about the same character reveals a "Jennifer" in that one.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 1:10 PM on August 31, 2020 [2 favorites]

Followup post so as not to abuse the edit window: I found a photo of the back cover of Bob Fulton's Terrific Time Machine, which reveals that the trip back in time is to "Castle Pendragon" and the trip forward is to "Perfecta, a wacky world of the future".
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 1:16 PM on August 31, 2020 [1 favorite]

Eureka, ManyLeggedCreature, you've found it! Thank you so much, I've tried to find this book for the last couple of years and had no success. There are so many juvenile fiction books about time travel that I was beginning to think I'd never find it.

Thanks to everyone, I favorited all the answers because you're all amazing.
posted by i feel possessed at 9:48 PM on September 2, 2020

UPDATE: After ManyLeggedCreature identified the book, I bought a copy on eBay and it turns out that the titular Bob Fulton's sister isn't Refinnej at all! She's Fennerji. In the wacky future, everyone's name is an anagram except Seldoon, the Nutfol family dog. No wonder I could never find it! Thanks again, all.
posted by i feel possessed at 10:35 AM on September 12, 2020

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