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.

1 comment:

  1. I like historical fiction and enjoyed reading this book - I would definitely recommend it for adults as well as children!