This title from 2007 appeared twice in one week: firstly, it was referred to in an article I read; secondly, as a donation to our library. To be honest, dear students, I wondered if the "universe" was sending me a message - READ this book! So, I did.
While I enjoy some of the author's works - most notably The Man Who Was Poe - most do not stir my literary heart. Yet, here was one that pulled me in within the first few pages and now, I MUST share my thoughts with you!
On the chilly afternoon when my great adventure began, a thick, dank, brownish fog had crept in, rendering the classroom even more dismal than usual. The Whale-oil lamp that sat upon the sergeant's desk glowed by faintly through a glass globe - a soot-smudged metaphor for the school's incessant dullness (12).Here is the world of Charles Dickens, dear student! You can feel his own life and his subsequent settings in his works reflected in this dismal Victorian world as seen through the eyes of a young boy. John Horatio Huffman unwillingly assumes the responsible role among his family members who are befuddled by the arrest of the father, a "gentleman."
Avi brilliantly meshes facts from Dickens's childhood, settings from Dickens's works, and the author's creative plot to present, not only to present a pleasingly convoluted mystery, but more importantly for you, to give you the visceral sense of those living in mid-19th century London - both rich, destitute, and the few struggling between these opposites. The realistic pen and ink illustrations mimic those that appeared in the serial publications of his magazine, Household Word, where his novels were presented in "installments."
Do not be surprised if we begin to study a bit about Mr. Dickens in the near future!
Avi. The Traitor's Gate; a novel. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2007. Print.
Other titles/authors that are related and may be of interest are:
- The Haunting of Charles Dickens by Lewis Buzbee (F Buz) where Mr. Dickens is a character to help a young boy solve a mystery.
- Leon Garfield was a prolific British author of many children's titles that bring Victorian England alive for readings. A very favorite mystery is Smith (F Gar), about a young pickpocket who is witness to a serious crime.