The Great Trouble
A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel
By Deborah Hopkinson
(Knopf Books for Young Readers, Hardcover, 9780375848186, 256pp.)
Publication Date: September 10, 2013
Other Editions of This Title: Compact Disc
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Eel has troubles of his own: As an orphan and a "mudlark," he spends his days in the filthy River Thames, searching for bits of things to sell. He's being hunted by Fisheye Bill Tyler, and a nastier man never walked the streets of London. And he's got a secret that costs him four precious shillings a week to keep safe.
But even for Eel, things aren't so bad until that fateful August day in 1854—the day the Great Trouble begins. Mr. Griggs, the tailor, is the first to get sick, and soon it's clear that the deadly cholera—the "blue death"—has come to Broad Street.
Everyone believes that cholera is spread through poisonous air. But one man, Dr. John Snow, has a different theory. As the epidemic surges, it's up to Eel and his best friend Florrie to gather evidence to prove Snow's theory before the entire neighborhood is wiped out.
Part medical mystery, part survival story, and part Dickensian adventure, Deborah Hopkinson's The Great Trouble is a celebration of a fascinating pioneer in public health and a gripping novel about the 1854 London cholera epidemic.
Backmatter includes an author's note, time line, and further reading suggestions.
DEBORAH HOPKINSON has written more than 40 books for young readers. Her picture books include Sky Boys: How They Built the Empire State Building, an ALA-ALSC Notable Children's Book and a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book; Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek, an ALA-ALSC Notable Children's Book and a Junior Library Guild Selection; A Boy Called Dickens; and the ALA Notable Book Apples to Oregon. She is also the author of the middle-grade novel Into the Firestorm: A Novel of San Francisco, 1906.
Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, September 2, 2013:
"Hopkinson adeptly recreates the crowded, infested streets of London, but it’s her distinct, layered characters and turbulent, yet believable plot that make this a captivating read."
Starred Review, School Library Journal, October 2013:
"Although detailing a dire period in history, Eel tells his story in a matter-of-fact and accessible manner, making his story palatable and entertaining."
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