The Great Trouble

BY DEBORAH HOPKINSON

247 pages, Middle School

1854: “What we now call the Great Trouble began one thick, hot, foul-smelling morning in August.” But Eel, an orphan and a “mudlark,” didn’t know it then. “No one did.”

Black-and-white photographs. Timeline of the Broad Street cholera epidemic. Bibliography and further reading included.

trouble-cover  The Great Trouble is based on the true story of the Blue Death, the Broad Street Cholera epidemic in London of 1854.  Eel, a thirteen year old orphan “mudlark”, scrounges a living sifting through the filthy mud of the River Thames that flows through London. When cholera breaks out, Eel recognizes the symptoms of the disease and goes in search of Dr Snow, an epidemiological scientist. An entertaining storyline makes this a great way to learn about Victorian England, urbanization and industrialization, and the squalid, often dangerous conditions of the street children.