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Book Review

Nick of Time by Ted Bell has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the first book in the “Nick McIver Adventures Through Time” series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Twelve-year-old Nick McIver and his younger sister, Kate, live in a lighthouse on one of the Channel Islands off the coast of England in 1939. Their parents live there also. Nick is allowed to freely roam the family's small island home and spend the day on his imaginative adventures, both on land and with the use of his small boat. He is responsible for coming home to dinner at a certain time.

Nick and Kate help their father look for Nazi activity along the coast. They want to help Churchill convince the English parliament that Germany is building its arsenal of weapons for war. The children also play along different island beaches. On one beach, they find a time machine. The then story jumps between 1939 and 1805.

The builder of the time machine was Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci sent the time machine to Nick through Captain Nicholas McIver, one of Nick's ancestors from 1805. Captain Nicholas teaches Nick about courage and resilience through his actions. His ancestor engages in trickery to defeat a French ship that is more powerful than his ship.

Gunner, a family friend who watches Nick and Kate, tries to do what he thinks their parents would want him to do. He protects the children when Captain Billy Blood shows an interest in them. Captain Billy Blood wants Nick’s time machine, and he will do anything — kidnapping, theft, murder — to get it.

Gunner lets Nick tie a rope around a Nazi periscope, but when the periscope moves away too fast, he cuts the line. Though the cut line is disappointing, Nick knows that Gunner acts in his and Kate’s best interest. From this incident, they know that the Nazis are using submarines off the coast of England.

While unraveling what the Nazis are doing in 1939 England, Nick meets Lord Hawkes, who is searching for his kidnapped children and Commander Hobbes, a British weapons specialist. Those two men and Gunner help stop the Nazi submarine. Then with the assistance of Captain Nicholas, they get a message to Lord Nelson and capture the submarine.

In the end, Nick, Kate, their new friends and ancestor stop Captain Billy Blood’s evil plan, return Lord Hawkes' children to him and show courage in the face of difficult events.

Christian Beliefs


Other Belief Systems


Authority Roles

Nick's mother has established a dinnertime rule. If Nick is late to dinner, and if the food has been cleared from the table, he must wait to eat until breakfast. His mother lets him have the consequences for his choices. Nick’s father asks Nick to join him in watching the coast for Nazi activity. Nick gives his parents respect, and they train him to be a responsible young man.

Lord Hawkes has spent the last five years searching for his kidnapped children. He is unwilling to give up his search for them. During their adventure, Commander Hobbes is willing to be Kate’s nanny, even though he is a decorated and respected veteran. At one point, Hobbes asks Kate to lie so they can escape the Nazis.


Nick is caught in a sea battle on Captain Nicholas’ ship. He fights with a knife, ducks cannonballs, falls from the rigging, gets a bump on his head and avoids being electrocuted. In the English and French battle at sea, sand is put on the deck to soak up the blood of those who have fallen.

Lord Hawke and Captain Billy Blood fight using swords. They exchange cuts. Others fight and receive cuts; some are lethal.

The Nazi submarine captain is cruel. He shoots a man out of a torpedo tube because he was given the same food for dinner. He shoots two SS officers, and sharks eat their bodies. He leaves Hobbes and Kate on a pier where he thinks they will be electrocuted.



Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at FocusOnTheFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

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Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. The inclusion of a book's review does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

8 to 12


Ted Bell






Record Label



Square Fish, a division of MacMillan Publishers


On Video

Year Published





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