Title: The Great FireThe Great Fire
Author: Monica Dickens
Illustrator: Rocco Negri
Pages: 64
Reading Level: 7-8
Star Rating: ★★★

London. 1660s. Children’s reader.

The Story.

Peter is one of the best watermen on the Thames. He owes a lot of his skill to his father, whom he lost to the great plague, along with his mother. Now he’s fairly well alone in the world.

But his station changes when young Lucy, the daughter of Lord Hensham (who he often escorts down the river) arranges for him to stay with her old nanny, Nurse Mobsy. Slowly Peter grows accustomed to once again feeling the comfort and joys of belonging to a family.

But will he lose his new home when a terrible, raging fire strikes the city?

Discussion.

Peter is a skilled boy who plies his talent to earn a livelihood first for himself and then for both himself and Nurse Mosby. It is the use of this skill which during the great fire labels Peter as a hero, for he spends the entire night ferrying terrified refugees across the Thames to safety.

Nurse Mosby tells Peter and Lucy an ongoing story about fairies and witches. (This story rears its head on two separate pages.)

Peter tells one lie, which he later admits to.

On pages 22-24 Lucy and Peter come across a chained bear who is being beaten to dance to a violin. An illustration is included. At the beginning of chapter 6, Nurse Mosby and Lucy jokingly fabricate violent ways Peter could be punished for telling the aforementioned lie. An illustration is shown of Nurse Mosby jumping into the river which shouldn’t be disturbing of itself, but which looks more like a witch tumbling to her demise.

Conclusion. A relatively good book.

Review © 2015 Laura Verret

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