Title: The Great Trouble
Author: Deborah Hopkinson
Recommended for: 4th grade and up
Call Number/Link: The Great Trouble
Synopsis: Equal parts medical mystery, historical novel, and survival story about the 1854 London cholera outbreak, this introduces Eel, a boy trying to make ends meet on Broad Street. When he visits one of his regular employers, he learns the man has fallen ill. Eel enlists the help of Dr. Snow, and together they work to solve the mystery of what exactly is causing the spread of cholera and how they can prevent it. Steeped in rich fact and detailed explanations about laboratory research, Hopkinson’s book uses a fictional story to teach readers about science, medicine, and history—and works in a few real-life characters, too. Eel serves as a peek into the lower class of London society and offers readers a way to observe—and, hopefully, ask questions about—the scientific method. An author’s note provides readers with a look at the real story behind the novel, making this a great choice for introducing readers to science and history.
This would be a great choice for those historical fiction genre assignments. She gives a great description of London in the mid 19th century and makes you grateful for indoor plumbing and modern medicine. My only complaint is that the pacing is a little slow. It picks up around the middle when the cholera epidemic breaks out. But I wouldn’t recommend it for reluctant readers.