Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 10/01/2013 Gr 5–8—This story of the 1854 cholera outbreak in London is told through the eyes of a 13-year-old orphan. Among other jobs, Eel works as an errand boy at the Lion Brewery, cares for Dr. John Snow's animals, and moonlights as a "mudlark," scavenging the Thames for scraps of coal and other things to sell. Eel struggles to survive as he is falsely accused of stealing by his boss at the brewery, tries to stay clear of his evil stepfather, and watches his neighbors fall ill and die. In desperation, he turns to the only man he knows who can help: Dr. Snow. Weaving historical personages such as Dr. Snow and the Reverend Henry Whitehead with fictional characters, Hopkinson illuminates a pivotal chapter in the history of public health. Dr. Snow believed that cholera was spread by contaminated water, not by bad air or "miasma," which was the popular theory at the time. With the help of Eel and his friends, he convinces an emergency committee that the water from the Broad Street pump is responsible and has the handle removed, thereby curtailing the outbreak. Although detailing a dire period in history, Eel tells his story in a matter-of-fact and accessible manner, making his story palatable and entertaining.—Ragan O'Malley, Saint Ann's School, Brooklyn, NY - Copyright 2013 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 10/15/2013 Equal parts medical mystery, historical novel, and survival story about the 1854 London cholera outbreak, this introduces Eel, a boy trying to make ends meet on Broad Street. When he visits one of his regular employers, he learns the man has fallen ill. Eel enlists the help of Dr. Snow, and together they work to solve the mystery of what exactly is causing the spread of cholera and how they can prevent it. Steeped in rich fact and detailed explanations about laboratory research, Hopkinson’s book uses a fictional story to teach readers about science, medicine, and history—and works in a few real-life characters, too. Eel serves as a peek into the lower class of London society and offers readers a way to observe—and, hopefully, ask questions about—the scientific method. An author’s note provides readers with a look at the real story behind the novel, making this a great choice for introducing readers to science and history. - Copyright 2013 Booklist.