Eel is living on his own, trying to stay hidden from his evil stepfather. Eel’s brother is tucked away somewhere safe out of the dangerous hands of the man who is supposed to be watching over them now that their mother has passed. Although he is only 13, Eel spends his life on the streets and in the mud looking for coins and treasure. He'll do any odd job to help make some extra money to support his younger brother. When people in his favorite neighborhood start falling ill from “the blue death” Eel is asked to help remove the bodies. It's scary and worrisome. No one seems to know what is happening and why people are dying so suddenly. Is the sickness traveling through the air? Eel and his friend get the opportunity to help the famous Dr. Snow look into the matter. Will they be able to figure out the reason for the sickness and stop it before it wipes out the whole neighborhood? Journey back to 1854 to see science in action!
When I started The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel I knew it was historical fiction, but I did not realize how engrossed in the story I would become. Although I had heard of cholera, it was something I did not know very much about. I loved learning about it through Eel’s spunky voice. I applauded his sheer determination. He's a great character who puts others ahead of himself while he struggles to survive. I found it fascinating to learn about how maps were made and the scientific approach used to figure out an epidemic like the one in the book. It was also interesting to think about the water wells that were used at the time and people carrying the water home and using it for days. Now we are so fortunate (where I live) to have water coming out of our faucets. I know many places around the world are not so lucky. I would recommend this book to anyone in fourth grade and up who likes history and a story that has some very real dangers. I have found that my favorite way to learn about history is through reading historical fiction novels. They really bring the time to life and help me remember what happened far more than memorizing facts from a book. You won't be disappointed as you get to know Eel, Dr. Snow and the other host of characters in this book
Has anyone else read The Great Trouble? Or have you read another book by Deborah Hopkinson? We’d love to hear your thoughts!