Vague-memory request time:

  • When I was a kid (around 1992-1996 era)...
  • ...I remember reading a series of books (perhaps a trilogy, possibly more)...
  • ...about these kids (3 kids, perhaps? I'm sure they were siblings, too)...
  • ...who went to an old house (on holiday... I think...) each year...
  • ...when there, they would travel back in time (through a mirror? I might have made that bit up)...
  • ...to a point at which this house was occupied by a wizard...
  • ...and, in this past dimension they could transform to animals (I'm pretty sure that the oldest sibling transformed himself into a fox)

They had various tasks/missions in order to help the wizard and his friends.

I wish I could remember more than this; the only thing that I can concretely remember is that I really enjoyed them!

Ringing any bells with anyone?

  • What language did you read those in? Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 14:36
  • It was in English, for sure, but I can't say if it was originally in English.
    – user42178
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 14:54
  • 2
    I mean, at a glance, this can apply to Harry Potter.
    – Möoz
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 21:12

4 Answers 4


I've been looking for this very same book series I think for years. Randomly saw an old miniseries adaptation on TV, and it was for sure of that series.

The Magician's House. It has 4 books:

  • The Steps up the Chimney
  • The Door in the Tree
  • The Tunnel behind the Waterfall
  • The Bridge in the Clouds

Three kids: William, Mary, and Alice. There's a house, an alchemist who can travel in time, and the oldest kid (William) can turn into a fox.

Hopefully, you will see this :D

  • 2
    I read that series too. Definitely sounds like a good match for this question!
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Feb 20, 2018 at 21:22
  • That's it! Magic - I'm gonna find them for my kids now. Great find, @Sarah !
    – user42178
    Commented Apr 26, 2018 at 9:02

Sounds (very) vaguely like The Box Of Delights. Also a classic BBC kids Christmas serialization.

A magical old man has asked Kay to protect the Box of Delights, a Box with which he can travel through time. But Kay is in danger: Abner Brown will stop at nothing to get his hands on it. The police don't believe Kay, so when his family and the Bishop are scrobbled up just before Christmas, he knows he must act alone . . .

John Masefield’s classic children’s book is considered to be one of the great works of modern children’s fiction. Magical, fantastical and filled with vivid, rich characters – brought to life in this edition by Quentin Blake’s stunning artwork – The Box of Delights and its sequel The Midnight Folk are a must-read for any child. A genuine fantasy classic in the tradition of Peter Pan, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland or The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. A wonderful book for early readers aged 8 and up.

  • Mmmm... not sure... it does sound similar, but I don't think it is the one I'm thinking of (although I might try and read that, too!)
    – user42178
    Commented Jul 7, 2017 at 15:35
  • ''The Box of Delights'' is about only a single child, not a group of them, and I don't recall time travel in the story (I saw it on tv, and do remember the child visiting a camp populated by medieval characters, but it was ambiguous as to whether or not he was then actually in the past). The child does transform into an animal, but not into a fox (though the story does elsewhere involve wolves). And the old man character who represents the magical element is not explicitly a wizard, nor does he live in the house the boy stays at - he's a wandering, peripatetic character.
    – Ed999
    Commented Mar 19, 2018 at 9:23

Can this be the Time Warp Trio series by Jon Scieszka, whose first book is Knights of the Kitchen Table?

My memory is also fuzzy, but I think I read about three books in the series.

These books are:

  • a series
  • published from 1991 to 2006
  • involving three boys (but not siblings)
  • who travel back in time using a book (always called "The Book")
  • and a magician uncle who gives The Book to the main character

I don't know about an old house, or turning into animals. I know that the first book is in King Arthur's time, and other Arthurian stories involve Merlin turning Arthur into animals, so maybe that was in there.


Sounds like the Narnia series: a series of 7 novels for children by the English author C S Lewis, published between 1950 and 1956.

In the initial novel, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, four children (three of whom are brother and sisters) go on holiday to an old house, where they travel through a magic wardrobe into the land of Narnia. The Witch who they encounter there puts a spell on one of the boys, turning him into an animal.

In the subsequent books, they keep going back to Narnia through the wardrobe (or sometimes without even using the wardrobe). The witch in the first book is succeeded in one of the sequels, entitled The Magician's Nephew, by a wizard (and his nephew) -- who live in the house in that story only.

There is a time travel element to the stories, in that time passes at a different rate in Narnia, such that however long the children spend there, no time has passed in England. And every time they visit Narnia a great deal of time has passed there - centuries perhaps - even though only a few months have passed in England.

Narnia is populated by lots of talking animals (including a talking horse in one book, The Horse and His Boy), so that there are a lot of other animals in the tales, in addition to the children occasionally being turned into animals.

  • (+1) Narnia is quite well-known, so I find it unlikely that this will be the book. Nonetheless, this is still a good answer! :)
    – Mr Pie
    Commented Mar 3, 2018 at 5:36

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