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The Great Trouble
by Deborah Hopkinson
Eel is almost 13 and orphaned in London in 1854. A bright boy, he has managed to fend for himself and even taken on a position that allows him room, board and clean water. It's the clean water that allows Eel to live long enough to tell his story.
Part historical fiction, part memoir, The Great Trouble chronicles the real events of the Broad Street pump in 1854 when cholera breaks out. Based on primary source documents, the story is told through Eel's perspective and we meet the historical figure, Dr. Snow, who was famous for dispelling the myth that cholera was spread through the air.
Eel and Dr. Snow work tirelessly and quickly to convince the people who use the Broad Street pump that cholera is actually spread through a virus in the water - even if you can't see it. Hopkinson does a great job of putting the reader in the middle of the epidemic, almost smelling the Thames and hearing the moans of those who have been stricken with the disease.
I think this book will appeal to students who enjoy historical fiction or younger readers - 5th and 6th graders. An easy read, The Great Trouble would make an excellent companion novel to classes studying the cholera outbreak of 1854 or European history.