What It Is About: Eel is a young orphan boy living in London during 1854. He does whatever he can to survive, make money, and stay away from Fisheye Bill Tyler; his evil step-father. Eel is also keeping a big secret and hiding an important family member so Fisheye can't find him. Everyone on Broad Street is making the best of a difficult life, but that becomes almost impossible when "The Great Trouble" hits during August. Most of the residents believe that the illness comes from "bad air", but Eel soon learns that it most likely is coming from the water in the well in the center of Broad Street. With the help of Dr. John Snow and his best friend Florrie, they begin a quest to find out the five W's of the disease so they can stop the horrible deaths that are occurring. Eel must do all of this while staying away from Fisheye, collecting money for his "secret", and making sure no one else that he cares about dies from The Great Trouble.
What I Thought Of It: Based on actual events in London during 1854 with added fictional characters, I thoroughly enjoyed this historical fiction novel. One of my 2014 reading goals is to fill in some reading gaps I have and this novel fits perfectly. The story of Eel moved along quickly with enough action and intrigue to keep me interested the entire reading. I'm not the most avid historical fiction reader (or historical non-fiction for that matter), but I truly enjoyed the story and was fascinated by the events that took place in London during this "Great Trouble."
Who Should Read It: I believe I read somewhere that the author wrote this book geared toward fourth graders. Being a fourth grade teacher, this caught my attention. I definitely think that my above-average readers could handle this novel on their own. I'm also thinking the novel would make an excellent read aloud for my students. Ideally, the book would be perfect for readers in fifth and sixth grade. Of course there are many adult readers that will enjoy the story just as much as our young readers will. Happy Reading!
Rating: 4 STARS out of 5 Stars