Review Blog

Jan 31 2014

The Great Fire of London Unclassified by Nick Hunter

cover image

Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN 9781408193037.
(Age: 9+) Recommended. Picture book, Fire, History. Published under the auspices of the National Archives and filled with an array of photographic evidence, pictures, maps, drawings, copies of written documents and many other primary sources, this book will fit the History curriculum when children study the Modern World within the curriculum for years seven to nine.
Both the Plague of 1665 and Great Fire in 1666 fire children's imagination at the sweep of such things four centuries ago. They will gasp at the lack of communication, lack of equipment to fight each disaster, lack of knowledge and the unstoppable nature of the fire, ponder at a conflagration just waiting to happen.
With London built cheek by jowl, the small but tall wooden houses needed only a spark, and when a bakery in Pudding Lane was not quite dowsed for the night, the fire began. The Mayor of London, refused to pull down the houses which would have halted the fire for fear of being blamed for the loss of the buildings, and so the fire spread taking in the churches, waterfront, St Paul's and much more, until over the three days, over three quarters of the city was lost. With no fire insurance, people simply had to start again.
I loved reading every page, looking at every photograph and map, along with the primary source material, comparing this fire with the ones that have destroyed parts of Australia recently.
Kids in upper primary and lower secondary will enjoy reading of this time in Britain's history along with the last part of the book dedicated to its rise from the ashes to become what it is today.
A sound glossary matched with a compact index and further resources to peruse, make this a must for libraries.
Fran Knight

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