About The Book
It’s 1940 and the Nazis are invading Nick’s beloved home, the British Channel Islands. So Nick takes to the skies: He has discovered an old World War One fighter plane in an abandoned barn. Determined to learn to fly, he is soon risking life and limb to photograph armed German minelayers and patrol boats, and executing incredibly perilous bombing raids over Nazi airfields by night.
Meanwhile, the evil pirate, Captain Billy Blood, still desperate to acquire Nick’s time machine, returns to Greybeard Island. He kidnaps Nick’s sister, Kate, and transports her back to Port Royal, Jamaica, in the year 1781, leaving Nick a message that if he wants to see her alive again, he must come to Jamaica and make an even swap: Kate’s life in exchange for Nick’s wondrous time machine—that’s Blood’s bargain.
Having traveled back in time, Nick discovers a plot that might change the outcome of the American Revolution. Disguised as an eighteenth-century cabin boy, he travels to the Caribbean and confronts his old enemy, who has assembled the world’s largest pirate armada.
From the battlefields of the New World to the brutal German occupation of English soil in World War Two, The Time Pirate has Nick McIver fighting once again to defend his country, the outcome of two wars resting on his young shoulders.
Author Bio: Ted Bell is the former Chairman of the Board and World-Wide Creative Director of Young & Rubicam, one of the world’s largest advertising agencies. He is the New York Times bestselling author of Hawke, Assassin, Pirate, Spy, and Tsar. His first novel for young adults, Nick of Time, was an instant New York Times bestseller.
The Time Pirate Discussion Questions
1. The Time Pirate falls under several genres: it combines elements of historical fiction, science fiction and fantasy. Name some books you know in each of those genre categories.
2. Nick travels through time to two different wars: the American Revolution and World War II. What event must Nick stop to save his own country during World War II? And why does stopping this event make Nick feel like a traitor?
3. Nick has a number of dangerous encounters. What does his father know about his adventures? His mother?
4. Nick’s parents are taken from their home by the Germans. How does removing them from the setting aid Bell in describing Nick and Kate’s adventure?
5. Nick has a dream in which he is riding in a Whirl-o-drome, an aircraft carnival ride. Why do you think Nick has this dream? Is it symbolic of anything and, if so, what?
6. Nick takes his sister into the Dark Forest, where they locate their father’s World War I Sopwith Camel fighter biplane in an old barn. Together, he and his friend Gunner, restore the old plane. Describe Nick’s friendship with Gunner. Why does Nick want to restore the plane?
7. Nick’s sister Kate is kidnapped by Captain Blood and taken back in time to the 18th century. Why does Blood kidnap Kate? What important information does she discover and how does this change the rest of the novel?
8. In this novel, Captain Billy Blood represents evil. The readers get this impression from what others say about him, how the narrator describes him, and through Blood’s own words. Give least one example of each. Then, describe Blood in one sentence in your own words.
9. Billy Blood is gathering the world’s largest pirate armada. Why does he do this and what does he hope to do with this large pirate fleet?
10. Motifs are themes, symbols, and images that reoccur in a work. What pirate motifs and World War II motifs can you find in the story? How do they contribute to the setting or the overall feel of reading the novel?
11. Describe Nick and Kate’s relationship. In what ways are they alike? How are they different? How do their personalities clash or complement one another?
12. Most adults in the novel come to trust, admire and respect Nick very quickly. Did you find this realistic? Please give some specifics reasons you feel this way.
13. Part of the fun of reading The Time Pirate is figuring out which parts of the story are based on actual historic events versus those where the author is taking “poetic license”, i.e. making things up. Find a favorite scene and explain how Ted Bell stays true to history and/or takes liberty with the truth.
The Time Pirate Extension Activities
1. The Germans begin searching for Nick after he bombs their aerodome. Fleur de Villiers hides Nick in a priest hole in her manor. Research the use of priest holes beginning with Queen Elizabeth I’s reign and make an electronic photo album of priest hole images gathered from the Internet and other resources to share with your classmates.
2. During the American Revolution, Marquis de Lafayette served in the Continental Army under George Washington. Investigate Lafayette’s role in the American Revolution and his commitment to America’s cause. Compare/contrast the role of the real-life Lafayette to that of Bell’s character in the American Revolution. Develop a PowerPoint based on your investigation to share with classmates. (You may elect to do this activity with other historical characters (e.g., Washington, Cornwallis, de Grasse).
3. Nick takes on several adult roles in The Time Pirate. He conducts a bombing run in a Sopwith Camel, a World War I fighter biplane; and he serves as Lafayette’s aide-de-camp during the Siege of Yorktown, the last major battle of the American Revolution. Research the role of children and pre-teens during the American Revolution and/or World War II, then prepare a presentation to share with others using pictures, articles, song lyrics or any other interesting materials you find on this subject.
4. The Siege of Yorktown is considered the last major battle of the American Revolution. Research the real event and compare it with the descriptions in The Time Pirate. In what ways is the real event similar to or different from Nick’s experiences? Create a pencil drawing that depicts the battle and the location of key military units for both sides.
5. George and Martha Washington’s Mount Vernon home still stands overlooking the Potomac River. Research the history of Mount Vernon and Washington’s family. In what way is Ted Bell’s description of Mount Vernon and Washington’s family true to history? What what ways is it different? Prepare a poster presentation on Mount Vernon to share with your classmates.
6. Pirates are a fascinating part of world history. Research a famous pirate and/or research modern-day piracy and develop a PowerPoint on your findings. (Might Captain Blood resemble the infamous Blackbeard?) A group may choose to collaborate on developing a pirate wiki site or you might want to share photos and music you discovered in your pirate research.
About Nick of Time
In the troubled year of 1939, Nicholas McIver lives on remote Greybeard Island, where he and his devoted dog Jip seek thrills with Nick’s mighty sloop Stormy Petrel. Nick’s father believes another terrible war is imminent and asks brave Nick and his little sister Kate to watch for Nazi spies. While Nick searches for Nazis with the courage of his idol Lord Nelson, hero of the Napoleonic Wars, he and Kate find a mysterious sea chest. Then two frightening pirate-like strangers appear and demand the children give them the chest. As Nick and Kate, with their friends Gunner, Hobbes, and Lord Hawke, try to outwit the strangers, they stumble onto the chest’s secret: it holds Leonardo da Vinci’s device for traveling through time. With da Vinci’s machine, the children embark on a heroic quest to defeat both time-traveling pirates and rapacious Nazis – a quest to protect their home, their family, and their country.
Nick of Time Discussion Questions
1) What genre is Nick of Time? Why? Could it belong to more than one genre? Explain your answer.
2) Why do you think author Ted Bell uses multiple points-of-view to tell Nick of Time’s story? What storytelling advantages does an author gain by using more than one viewpoint?
3) Why might Nick’s father have decided to disobey government rules and report on German activity? Should the government punish him for his actions? Why, or why not? Under what circumstances might disobeying government rules be acceptable?
4) During difficult times, Nick and Kate often use instinct, rather than academic learning or logic, to survive. How effective is this survival approach? If you were in the same situations, what approaches would you use and why?
5) From your understanding of time, how accurate are Hobbes and Lord Hawke’s explanations of it? In what ways might their explanations be inaccurate? What aspects of time do you think we now know most and least about?
6) Lord Hawke tells Nick and Gunner: “We are about to venture into the past, gentlemen. In so doing, we incur an enormous responsibility to history.” (ARC p.175) What does he mean by this? What might happen if someone traveled through time irresponsibly? What might happen if someone responsible, and with the best intentions, drastically changed history?
7) Are evil people like Nazi U-boat captain Von Kreig and pirate Billy Blood always crazy? Why, or why not? How do you define “evil”? How does someone become evil?
8) In what ways is spying, like that done by the Nazis and by Angus McIntire, moral, and how might it be immoral? What distinguishes a moral spy from an immoral one? Under what circumstances is spying the right thing to do?
9) Winston Churchill and Lord Nelson are characters in Nick of Time, but they also are two historically important men. How do people like them become historically important? Have these people truly shaped history more than others, or are they simply more well-known? Explain your answer.
10) Considering the Nick of Time descriptions of ship boys’ tasks during the era of Lord Nelson, how have children’s roles during warfare changed since then? In what ways has this change been beneficial to our society, and in what ways has it been detrimental? What do you think children’s proper roles during wars should be?
11) Do you think Nick of Time’s sea warfare depictions are realistic or idealized? Why? What do you imagine present day sea warfare is like? Would you ever choose to become a sailor on a military ship? Why, or why not?
12) What is your definition of a hero? How is your definition similar to and different from Nick’s? Who are your heroes? What traits do they have or actions have they taken that make them heroic?
Nick of Time Extension Activities
1) In Nick of Time, many of the characters use sailing terms. Collect these terms from the story and research their meanings. Then create a Nick of Time sailing term handbook.
2) Pretend you’re a filmmaker writing scripts for documentaries on the real Winston Churchill and Lord Nelson. Investigate each man’s birth and death dates, important life events, and influence on history. Then write scripts for your Winston Churchill and Lord Nelson documentaries.
3) Few people have detailed local maps, like the map Nick draws for the reef around Gravestone Rock. Become a local cartographer, and draw a detailed map of your neighborhood or favorite place. Be sure to provide an appropriate key and appropriate labels for all significant features.
4) Research technical information for World War II era U-boats, especially U-33. Also collect U-boat images, as well as information on U-boat tactics, successes, and failures. Then create a World War II U-boat multimedia presentation to share with friends or classmates.
5) Investigate current theories on time machines and time travel. Using the most plausible theory, design your own time travel machine or device. Construct a model for your time travel invention.