Friday, 16 November 2012

Ned-Barnardo boy

Ned was "nobody's child". He turned up in a poor alley, in the East End of London sometime in the late 1870s,  and was given food and a space on the floor by the women of the alley but he had to earn a living. Ned's job was carrying parcels for the middle class and wealthy people arriving at stations. Life was hard: there were bullies, little work, little food, difficulties with accommodation and certainly not a home.

Barbara Coyle has written a children's novel around Ned whose adventures lead him to a Ragged School, then Dr Barnardo's home in Stepney, before emigration to Canada, via the Barnardo's scheme. This book would certainly qualify as a living book-it is full of history, geography and a very clear Christian message. It led us into interesting conversations about icebergs, Barnardo homes, poverty, food banks and tapping for maple syrup. There is plenty more that could be explored.

The story has a satisfactory and happy ending although it is clear that that wasn't the case for all the boys sent to Canada. I find the ending a bit of a tear jerker much to the annoyance of my children. Does anyone else find that tears or laughter interfere with reading aloud?

There were serious issues around the emigration schemes to Canada and the book covers this as well as notes at the end covering this as well as the dreadful conditions for lone children in Victorian London. Whilst the book is a great read aloud from about age 6, I have chosen to omit these notes when reading this book aloud to younger children. They might form discussion points for older children.

My six year old loved me reading this book to her and kept requesting further chapters. There is enough in this book to appeal to older children and I have enjoyed rereading it, for the fourth time now, I think! Warmly recommended!

Ned is obtainable in print or for kindle.

Ned is a book that we have owned for some years. I was involved in a little of the background research around London but have no commercial interest in the book.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing about this book! I'll add it to my to read list. We have a few British Home Children in our family.