Saint John Don Bosco:

"Never read books you aren't sure about . . . even supposing that these bad books are very well written from a literary point of view. Let me ask you this: Would you drink something you knew was poisoned just because it was offered to you in a golden cup?"

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Lizzie's Wish by Adele Geras

Usborne has an intriguing premise introduced in this new series chapter book. Lizzie’s Wish is one of 3 historical fiction novels that takes place in the same location but in a different time period. The base location is a large, regal home in London. In this book, Lizzie lives in the Victorian era. (warning: alliteration abounds today).

Lizzie moves to this home to live with her extended family because her father died and her new stepfather, a pastor, is a miserable, miserly man who wants Lizzie gone while her mother is pregnant and can’t take care of her properly. Lizzie has to cope with her new location and then with the complication of losing communication with her mother who stops writing.

It’s a reasonable but-not-riveting read. My girls enjoyed it more than I did. I found the effort to convey the Victorian times a bit more contrived than convincing. Women, of course, weren’t encouraged to “think outside the home” in terms of working, but it still was a bit silly the way it was emphasized. But the book wasn’t long enough to present a complex characterization.

You also won’t get any challenge here in terms of complexity of language. But it’s a fine introduction to the Crimean War, Victorian Era, and Florence Nightingale for younger tweens.

Note to parents: there is yet another depiction of a pastor-who-turns-missionary as a mean-spirited, abusive man. I’m sure tweens know everyone is subject to original sin and especially temptations of pride, but I'm cautious about the increasing tendency in pop culture to portray Christians poorly. Otherwise, for safety, it would be a shoo-in for 3 flags.

Safety Rating: 2 Flags

Historical Fiction: 1857; Victioran Era; Crimean War


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