© 2017 The Literacy Classroom 

The Victorians

Street Child
by Berlie Doherty

Unforgettable tale of an orphan in Victorian London, based on the boy whose plight inspired Dr Barnardo to found his famous children's homes. When his mother dies, Jim Jarvis is left all alone in London. He is sent to the workhouse but quickly escapes, choosing a hard life on the streets of the city over the confines of the workhouse walls. Struggling to survive, Jim finally finds some friends. . .only to be snatched away and made to work for the remorselessly cruel Grimy Nick, constantly guarded by his vicious dog, Snipe. Will Jim ever manage to be free?

Hetty Feather
by Jaqueline Wilson

London, 1876. Hetty Feather is a tiny, fiery-haired baby when her mother leaves her on the steps of the Foundling Hospital. 

Sent to live with a foster family in the country until she is big enough to go to school, Hetty plays vivid imaginary games with her foster brothers. Together they sneak off to visit the travelling circus, and Hetty is mesmerised by the show - especially the stunning Madame Adeline and her performing horses.

But Hetty's happiness is threatened when she must return to the Foundling Hospital to begin her education. The cruel matrons' strict regime is a terrible struggle for Hetty, and she desperately misses her beloved foster brother, Jem. But now she has the chance to find her real mother. Could she really be Madame Adeline? Or will the truth be even more surprising? 

Mill Girl: A Victorian Girl's Diary 1842-1843
by Sue Reid

In spring 1842 Eliza is shocked when she is sent to work in the Manchester cotton mills - the noisy, suffocating mills. The work is backbreaking and dangerous - and when she sees her friends' lives wrecked by poverty, sickness and unrest, Eliza realizes she must fight to escape the fate of a mill girl

Lizzie's Wish
by Adele Geras

Lizzie loves plants, and her biggest wish is to be a gardener, a bold choice for a Victorian girl. When her strict and miserable stepfather sends her to stay with relatives in London, Lizzie misses her country garden and struggles to adapt to her new life of stiff manners and formal pastimes.

A compelling story of one girl's dtermination to defy the stifling conventions of Victorian life.

Dodger
by Terry Pratchet

Dodger is a tosher – a sewer scavenger living in the squalor of Dickensian London.  Everyone who is nobody knows Dodger. Anyone who is anybody doesn’t.  But when he rescues a young girl from a beating, suddenly everybody wants to know him.  And Dodger’s tale of skulduggery, dark plans and even darker deeds begins.

A terrifically funny tale of dark deeds in Dickensian London, from master storyteller Terry Pratchett.

The Twisted Tunnels
by Terry Deary

Jenny and her grandfather are toshers. They survive by finding things in the sewer – anything they can sell, and they can sell almost anything. It’s a horrible life, but they are managing. Until the building of the London Underground Railway destroys huge parts of the slums and takes away even their meagre home. Fascinating story of the human cost of the Underground.

A simpler read than the other fiction listed here. Great if you’re looking for a shorter story or for younger or more reluctant readers.

The Time-travelling Cat and the Great Victorian Stink
by Juila Jarman

Topher’s amazing cat, Ka, has been time-travelling and she has left him the clue:  CAppeLLis

Following her, Topher finds himself in Victorian London where disease is rife and the Thames is clogged with stinking sewage! Topher discovers a plot to kill Joseph Bazalgette, the man who is trying to save the city. Determined to foil it, Topher must first escape from an arch-criminal and his den of thieves.

Twelve Minutes to Midnight
by Christopher Edge

Penelope Tredwell is the feisty thirteen-year-old orphan heiress of the bestselling magazine, The Penny Dreadful. Her masterly tales of the macabre are gripping Victorian Britain, even if no one knows she’s the real author. One day a letter she receives from the governor of the notorious Bedlam madhouse plunges her into an adventure more terrifying than anything she ever imagined – A thriller with a fast-paced cinematic style, Twelve Minutes to Midnight is an electrifying story from an exciting new author.

WARP: The Reluctant Assassin
by Eoin Colfer

The Matrix meets Oliver Twist, WARP: The Reluctant Assassin is the first of a major new series by Eoin Colfer, the bestselling author of Artemis Fowl.

It all began with the FBI and WARP (Witness Anonymous Relocation Programme). Hiding witnesses in the past to protect the future – until now . . .

Riley is a Victorian orphan, hurtled into the twenty-first century and on the run from his evil master . . .

Albert Garrick, the terrifying assassin-for-hire pursuing Riley through time, along with Chevie Savano, the FBI’s youngest and most impulsive special agent.

As Garrick relentlessly hunts them down, Riley and Chevie face a desperate race to stay alive and stop Garrick from returning to his own time – armed with knowledge and power that could change the world forever.

The Adventures of the New Cut Gang
by Philip Pullman

Benny, Thunderbolt, Bridie, Sharky and the Peretti twins are a mixed bunch of vagabonds and urchins who come together to form the New Cut Gang in two comic tales of stolen silver and skulduggery.

Fake coins are turning up all over Lambeth and the finger of suspicion is pointing at Thunderbolt’s dad – could he really be the forger? The crime-busting New Cut Gang come to the rescue!

And when just two clues – a blob of wax and a Swedish match – are discovered at the scene of a break-in, the children find themselves on the trail of an extremely cunning criminal.

Set in late Victorian London, these gripping thrillers have now been put together in a single volume – with new illustrations throughout from Horrible Histories illustrator, Martin Brown

Cogheart
by Peter Bunzl

Lily's life is in mortal peril. Her father is missing and now silver-eyed men stalk her through the shadows. What could they want from her?

With her friends - Robert, the clockmaker's son, and Malkin, her mechanical fox - Lily is plunged into a murky and menacing world. Too soon Lily realizes that those she holds dear may be the very ones to break her heart...

Murder, mayhem and mystery meet in this gripping Victorian adventure.

Gaslight
by Eloise Williams

Wales Arts Review Young People's Book of the Year 2017. All Nansi knows is that her mother disappeared on the day she was fished out of Cardiff docks. ow, in 1899, she can't remember anything else. Now, with no other family to turn to, she works for Sid at the Empire Theatre, sometimes legally, sometimes thieving to order, trying to earn enough money to hire a detective to find her mother. Everything changes when Constance and Violet join the theatre, both with their own dark secrets. Nansi is forced to be part of Violet's crooked psychic act. But it's when Constance recognises her, and realises who her mother must be, that Nansi's world is turned upside down forever. She is soon on the run for her life and she will have to risk everything if she's going to find the truth.

Fair's Fair
by Leon Garfield

Jackson is cold and starving in the dreadful winter weather. He's looking forward to the steaming pie that is payment for a long night's work. When the huge black dog comes - growling and glaring - Jackson gives it half his meal. One bargain soon leads to another - and to some unexpected rewards . . .

With an engaging (and very creepy) story, illustrated in colour and black and white on every double page spread, this story is ideal for newly confident readers.

Rose Campion and the Stolen Secret
by Lyn Gardner

Rose was left by her mother at the door of Campion's Palace of Variety and Wonders as a baby. It is her home, and she loves it, but she never stops wondering who she really is. When murder threatens to destroy the music hall, Rose will need all her performance skills to crack the crime and delve into a murky past of blackmail, subterfuge and abduction..

Punch
by Barbara Henderson

Wrong place. Wrong time. A boy on the run. THE MARKET’S ON FIRE. FIRE! FIRE! THE BOY DID IT! Smoke belches out through the market entrance. And me? I turn and run. Inverness 1889. When 12-year-old Phin is accused of a terrible crime, his only option is to flee. In the unlikely company of an escaped prisoner and a group of travelling entertainers, he enters a new world of Punch and Judy shows and dancing bears. But will Phin clear his name? And what can he do when memories of a darker, more terrible crime begin to haunt him? PUNCH is good proper storytelling, packed with colourful characters, shifting settings and real tension. Like Punch's nose I was hooked and with Phineas every fleeing, hiding, performing page of the way. Janis MacKay Vivid, exhilarating, and heartwarming; a dramatic and colourful tale of life on the run. John K Fulton