Friday 30 October 2020

Out of the Smoke

Children's historical fiction about London is always a hit, in this house, so I was pleased to have the opportunity to read Out of the Smoke which is due to be published tomorrow, 31st October.

Out of the Smoke is aimed at older children and set in the underbelly of Victorian London. 

Billy is an eleven year old climbing boy, one of the children used to clean chimneys by pulling himself up the chimney and using a brush from inside the flue. Strange to our thinking but it was thought that this gave better results than using brushes although, this method of chimney cleaning came at a heavy cost to the children involved. Billy had six years of experience as a climbing boy when the story starts and was proving useful as he had stopped growing. doubtless, partly due to chronic malnutrition. 

The dangers of climbing weren't the only problem that Billy faced. He lived in South London in a world of gangs, violence, drunkenness and neglect. His problems become worse and he has to flee his own area and face the dangers of gang warfare. 

I don't want to put in any plot spoilers except to say that Lord Shaftesbury, his Christian motivation and his work in eradicating child sweeps does come into the book.

Out of the Smoke has a clear Christian message: a message that is as relevant today, and to today's gang members, as it was to Billy's comrades. Billy has to learn that he can't help himself and that his own schemes don't work before he will listen to the simple Gospel message brought by the Earl.

I enjoyed reading Out of the Smoke and hope to use it with a book group for tweens, in the New Year. It would appeal to children from age about 10.  It has just the right mix of adventure, action and danger to appeal to tweenagers/early teens. Families with avid readers often look for books to give to younger children. There is a fair amount of violence and injury in the book. I am sure that it downplays the reality of the situation, however, it should be pre-read before giving to younger children, particularly, if they are sensitive. 

Highly recommended for readers from about age 10.

Out of the Smoke is published by Wakeman Trust and is available from the Metropolitan Tabernacle bookshop and Amazon. There are some accompanying resources on Matthew Wainwright's website plus the first chapter if you would like a taster.

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Disclaimer: I was provided with a pdf review copy of Out of the Smoke. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions are my own.

Saturday 24 October 2020

Wulfgar and the Dragon

Wulfgar and the Dragon is the second book in the Wulfgar the Saxon trilogy by Christina Eastwood. I reviewed the first book, Wulfgar and the Vikings earlier in the year. Both are children's historical fiction set in southern England in the ninth century. 

In this new volume, there are rumours of damage to crops and animals by a strange beast. Wulfgar and his mentor, Morcant, set off to investigate. Their findings lead to decisions around loyalty. What is the explanation for the strange beast? Has Wulfgar made the right decision about his findings and what will be the consequence?

This book would help bring a study of the Saxons alive. It is written from a clear Christian worldview and brings up issues such as honesty, loyalty, older Christians doing wrong, a troubled conscience and a changed life. 

The book is said to be for 9-12 year olds and this is fair. Keen readers will finish this book quickly and I think that it would also be suitable for slightly younger readers providing they aren't particularly sensitive. There are some injuries in the book and animals are killed but this isn't over dramatised. 

CS Lewis said 

children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest. 

When Wulfgar and the Vikings  arrived, my husband immediately asked if he could read it as he had so appreciated the first volume. I certainly found it a splendid book. My eleven year old was also fascinated with the idea of a book including dragons. So, this book is recommended by us.

Wulfgar and the Dragon is available from Ritchie Christian Media and also from Amazon. This new book is complete in itself but like any trilogy, it makes most sense the read the first book, Wulfgar and the Vikings first. I hope that when all three volumes are available, there will be an option to buy the trilogy as one volume.

If you enjoyed this post you may like to follow Delivering Grace by Google Friend Connect,Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or e-mail.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a review copy of Wulfgar and the Vikings. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions are my own.