The Backyard Time Detectives


32 pages
ISBN 0-7737-5740-6
DDC j508




Illustrations by Eugenie Fernandes

Christine Linge is a past director of the Toronto & District Parent
Co-operative Preschool Corporation and a freelance writer.


Jamey and Megan think gardening is boring, until their parents explain
the history of simple objects around them. The ravine nearby was once a
watering hole for bears and deer. The rock dug out from the garden was
imported by a long-ago glacier. The adults show the children how to
become “time detectives”; how to seek out and interpret clues to the
past, both obscure (sand and compost) and obvious (a pioneer’s nail).

Time detectives can also find clues to the future. The seeds they plant
will become vegetables, and the robin’s nest will soon be full of
babies. Visions of possible futures include a world buried in pollution,
which the children are determined to avoid. The book ends with the
family planting a time capsule to be found by future time detectives.

As in the other books in this series, Suzuki aims to enhance the
reader’s sensitivity to nature by enlarging upon a simple but
fundamental principle of life on earth (in this case, change), in a
story that will entice youngsters and excite their curiosity. In this he
is greatly aided by the captivating and cheerful drawings of Eugenie
Fernandes, whose work smoothly combines biological accuracy with
cartoonlike charm. Her image of the characters’ home surrounded by a
massive glacier will both impress and amuse.

The page-by-page questions and facts at the back of the book further
enhance its instructional value. Both accessible to primary readers and
comprehensible to preschoolers, this book is highly recommended.


Suzuki, David., “The Backyard Time Detectives,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 22, 2024,