A Message Through Time

When 11-year-old Felix finds a message in a bottle during a trip to France, he is in for the surprise of a lifetime. Suddenly he is flung back 1700 years to Ancient Roman times, dragging his very unwilling 15-year-old stepsister, Zoe, with him.

They are offered sparrows for lunch and horse-spit as medicine, but that is only the beginning! When they ricochet forward to their own time again, Felix and Zoe discover they have accidentally brought a high-class Roman girl with them… Can they navigate the strange Roman world – from opulent city to distant sacred spring – and return the 12-year-old girl to her family before time runs out?

In this standalone companion novel to the acclaimed The Boy Who Stepped Through Time, featuring a whole new cast of characters, award-winning author Anna Ciddor has created a roller-coaster adventure that will have young readers on the edge of their seats.


Available at all good bookstores. Print and e-book versions available online at Dymocks, Readings, Booktopia, Book Depository (sadly, closing down on 26 April, but free overseas deliveries available till then), Amazon, Kobo, and the Australian publisher Allen and Unwin.


Have a go at a fun quiz for a chance to win a mega book pack for yourself AND your school! There will be three lucky winners. The quiz tests your knowledge of Ancient Roman customs (the answers can all be found in the book).


Allen and Unwin 4 April 2023

Research secrets

This book would not have been possible without the collaboration of historian and archaeologist Tamara Lewit who used her brilliant skills to unearth the tiniest details about the lives and homes of people in Roman Gaul in 315 CE.

Click here to find out the secrets of Tamara’s research and explore some of the primary sources, just like she did.


As well as writing the book, I did the illustrations using Adobe Fresco. Click here for a cool time-lapse video showing the whole illustrating process.

Fun activity sheets

Colour this street in Arelate (the Roman city of Arles) adapted from the book

Colour this illustration of the main characters from A Message Through Time

Teaching Notes

Teachers, please feel free to download the Teaching Notes


‘One time travel book just wasn’t enough for Anna Ciddor, so she’s brought her magical writing skills back for round two … It’s a roller coaster ride from start to finish. Middle grade fans of fun, action, adventure, history and time travel are going to love it.’

From Shaye Wardrop in Kids’ Book Review

‘Meticulously researched and with detailed and insightful back-matter, A Message Through TIme is a rip-roaring and immersive time-slip adventure that brings alive Roman life – exploring the lives of both the richest and the poorest. Featuring charismatic characters and with an enthralling storyline that will keep you on tenterhooks right until the end … a brilliant story … The exploration of Roman life for women is a particular highlight … Recommended for 8+.’

From Matt Wilson in A Word About Books

‘Anna Ciddor has written a factual and rollicking adventure suitable for children/teenager/adult readers. An ancient Roman must-read, an immersive and exciting time-slip journey into the past.’

From Gretchen Bernet-Ward in Goodreads

‘This is a highly imaginative, informative, entertaining novel, accurately researched and well-paced, as three time-travelling friends endure the discomforts, ugliness, beauty and strangeness of life in the ancient Roman Empire. Older primary aged children of both sexes would enjoy this fast moving adventure, which accurately reflects an exotic world vastly different to their own.’

From Magpies Magazine May 2023

‘The novel is a lot of fun, with culture clash mixed into the adventure. Petronia’s attitude to modern times is hilarious(though she is impressed by public playgrounds). When the three young people return to Roman times the culture clash is even more over-the-top, with food, medicine and customs bizarre to the two modern children, but quite normal to their hostess. Like the previous novel, it is well researched with the help of the author’s sister, an expert in this era. The author has also done the very good internal artwork.’

From Sue Bursztynski in The Great Raven

‘I was pulled deeply into the story, because it is action-packed, and the characters – Felix and Zoe – are relatable. We all know what culture shock is like when we visit a country we have never been to but imagine going back … 1700 years in time! …the people they speak to – women, slaves, the lower classes – are not the voices that are heard through historical texts …historical fiction like this really brings it to life, and gives names and faces to the masses of people who populated these times’

From Ashleigh Meikle in The Book Muse

‘entertaining and engaging timeslip novel with plenty of Ancient Roman facts that will delight (and occasionally, disgust) young readers … I especially enjoyed the dynamic between Felix and Zoe, who are still developing their sibling relationship as a result of their newly blended family …There’s plenty of great messages around standing up to bullies and believing in yourself, too, making this a great read aloud for the classroom.’

From Stef at Noveltea Corner

‘Tracing the development of the relationships between the characters … provides some rich discussion and reflection for readers ... clear themes of gender roles, wealth and privilege, resilience, ingenuity, the issues of slavery and moral compass/conscience as well as rich historical details …Highly recommended.’

From Sue Warren, teacher-librarian at Just So Stories

‘As soon as I read the first page, I was lost in the magical Roman times. It was like I couldn’t put down the book! Anna is an amazing writer and she actually inspired me to write stories. I definitely recommend it… You seriously can’t put it down!’

From Chelsea, age 10.

‘Each chapter was so exciting and I didn’t want to stop reading it. The descriptions were amazing and made you feel like you actually went back in time.’

From Tom, age 11

‘I loved this book so much all the way through. There were no boring bits … At all moments Anna Ciddor captured all the scenes really well and painted pictures in my mind. Anna really out did herself on this book.’ 

From Rupert, age 10

‘A message through time is the thrilling story of Felix, his annoying step-sister Zoe and their incredible adventure through the fantastical world of Ancient Rome. I was constantly surprised and amazed at the twists and turns in this brilliant piece of writing. It is a gripping story that will keep you reading right to the end. A must read for everyone, young and old.’

From Frank, age 14

Read an excerpt

Kobo has a preview of the e-book, available to read online


Enquire here about translation rights or overseas sales. Contact the author directly about film rights.