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GUTGAA Pitch #11 Johnny Drake, Time Traveler

Johnny Drake, Time Traveler
Middle Grade, Adventure

Thirteen year-old Johnny Drake makes an astonishing discovery in his basement one day: his furnace is also a time machine, invented by the now-deceased previous owner of the house. Then Johnny gets the outrageous idea to prevent the car crash that disabled his teacher, Miss Anderson, twenty-eight years earlier.

Using the teacher’s favorite novel, A Christmas Carol, as inspiration, and relying on the inventor’s journal for time-traveling tips, Johnny dresses as the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come and travels to 1983. He warns Miss Anderson of a grim future if she gets in a certain car on a specific day. Johnny soon learns, though, that there is a mystery to the crash involving his father, and that changing history will have major repercussions in the future.

Can Johnny alter the past without risking his very existence?

Johnny Drake, Time Traveler can easily be continued as a series.

First 150 Words:

“Johnny Drake, are you paying attention?” Miss Anderson said. The tone in her voice meant Don’t be a slacker. Even while she was scolding me, though, she had a hint of a smile, which suggested she had seen the likes of me before.

But I knew she hadn’t.

I sat up and tried to look alert. Truth is, I had been paying attention—just not to what she was saying. My attention was on the way she limped to the blackboard, the cane she used to get around. I’d heard the stories of how she got injured when she was fifteen, only two years older than I am now.

What I’d been thinking about was preventing the accident that hurt her leg.

What I’d been thinking about was time travel.

Sam Rizzo, my best friend, shot a spitball at me, bringing me back to reality: English class with Miss Anderson, lunch period next with Sam and Amy.


  1. Cool story concept! It reminds me of a MG version of Back to the Future; the query itself definitely grabbed me and I like the twist about his father.

    The first 150 are also good, although I'm left wondering why Johnny would be so obsessed with preventing Miss Anderson's accident; I would guess this comes out later. On a technical point, if Miss Anderson asking Johnny if he was paying attention already disrupted his thoughts, how would Sam's spitball disrupt them again? Unless he literally started daydreaming again about the fact that he was daydreaming...

    Just a minor tweak that can be easily corrected, though. I really like the concept. Good luck!

  2. The fact that your MC wants to go back in time to help his teacher prevent the accident that left her disabled REALLY pulled at my heart strings. The hint that by doing so he might prevent his very conception pretty much grabbed those heart strings and hooked me! Great job, great delivery, great voice--great great great! I'd definitely read something like this.

  3. I'm leaving comments first and will be back with my votes later.

    Your main character's motivation comes through loud and clear. I love the idea of a time machine/furnace. What imagination! I think you did miss an opportunity to work in some voice and character personality by not describing Johnny's first use(s) of the time machine. He has to have taken a test drive with it. Does he do anything cool before he decides to help his teacher?

    Also, I didn't like the question as your summing up sentence at the end of the query. Perhaps rephrase it to a statement.

    Your First 150 could be tightened. You probably don't need to repeat Miss Anderson's name in the last sentence. That's understood. There would be more personality if Johnny's eyes went to the clock after he was spitballed 'back to reality' and he saw it was almost lunch.

    I was hoping he would discover the furnace/time machine in the opening pages, but the first 150 makes it sound like that event has already happened. It would be too much of a coincidence if he was wishing for a time machine and soon after, hey, he found one.


    I LOVE this concept. The time travel mixed with A Christmas Carol. I am completely intrigued by a young boy who cares enough for his teacher to go back in time and help her. And of course all the complications that will come with that. I like the voice in the first 150. Very clean, concise writing. Great job!


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