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*The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel* by Deborah Hopkinson - middle grades book review
Also by Deborah Hopkinson:

A Boy Called Dickens

Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek: A Tall, Thin Tale (Introducing His Forgotten Frontier Friend)

Into the Firestorm: A Novel of San Francisco, 1906
The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel
by Deborah Hopkinson
Grades 5 256 pages Knopf September 2013 Hardcover    

One never expects an epidemic of dangerous proportions to sweep the streets of a bustling great city like London, but in the summer of 1854, exactly that happened. All told, five hundred plus people lost their lives to the Blue Death, but why and how the outbreak of cholera hit and spread so quickly was at the time a mystery yet unsolved.

From nearly the beginning of The Great Trouble, Eel has been trying to make ends meet as a young mudlark and by doing odd jobs around London when the outbreak strikes, taking some very dear friends from him. In a panic and driven by need to prevent more deaths, Eel seeks the expertise of Dr. Snow to help the victims of this mounting disaster.

Dr. Snow proves to be an unusual physician: his intention is not to cure those afflicted with the dreaded cholera but to find the root cause and prevent further infections. His scientific approach to the outbreak is a mystery in itself as the clues behind cause and effect find Eel, Dr. Snow and several others on a mission to solve the crime of mass infection. Using the hypothesis Dr. Snow feels best-suited tothe situation and conditions, the team sets to work to save innocents and curb the onslaught of the deadly infection in the face of mounting odds and disagreement with the conjectures of one man.

Award-winning author Deborah Hopkinson brings forth the ghastly truth of cholera's devastation in the 1854 Blue Death epidemic with a youth-appropriate style reminiscent of the great Charles Dickens. The nonfictional is eloquently folded into the fictional tale of Eel, whose character shows hints of a young Sherlock Holmes meshed with Oliver Twist--a very easy-to-like protagonist to follow through difficult situations and the added complexities encountered in the unfolding plot.

The research references for cholera, Dr. John Snow, London and the epidemic are clearly provided for those readers interested in the pursuit of further personal research. Additionally included in the The Great Trouble are references to websites associated with key figures and information pertaining to the Blue Death. Hopkinson has several novels available for young readers which can be referenced via her website.
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