Oregon Book Awards Finalist Deborah Hopkinson

You can cast your vote for the 2015 Readers’ Choice Award online at www.literary-arts.org/voteOBA! The winner will be announced at the Oregon Book Awards ceremony on April 13 at the Gerding Theater at the Armory.

Between now and April 13, we will be featuring all of the 2015 Oregon Book Awards finalists.

THE GREAT TROUBLE2015 Oregon Book Awards Finalist

The Great Trouble by Deborah Hopkinson


Children’s Literature



About the book: 

Eel has troubles of his own: As an orphan and a “mudlark,” he spends his days in the filthy river Thames, searching for bits of rope or pieces of coal to sell.  He’s being hunted by Fisheye Bill Tyler, and a nastier man never walked the streets of London.  And he’s got a secret that costs him four precious shillings a week to keep safe.

But even for Eel, things aren’t so bad until that fateful August day in 1854 – the day the Great Trouble begins.  Mr. Griggs, the tailor, is the first to get sick, and soon it’s clear that the deadly cholera – the “blue death” – has come to Broad Street.

Everyone believes that cholera is spread through poisonous air. But one man, Dr. John Snow, has a different theory.  As the epidemic surges, it’s up to Eel and his best friend, Florrie, to gather evidence to help Dr. Snow prove his theory – that cholera is spread through water – before the entire neighborhood is wiped out.

Part medical mystery, part survival story, and part Dickensian adventure, The Great Trouble is a celebration of a fascinating pioneer in public health and a gripping novel about the infamous 1854 London cholera epidemic.

About the author: 

Deborah Hopkinson writes nonfiction and historical fiction for young readers. Her forthcoming titles include Courage & Defiance set in WWII Denmark, A Bandit’s Tale, The Muddled Misadventures of a Pickpocket, and a picture book featuring Beatrix Potter. She also wrote the ALA Award-winning Apples to Oregon. This spring Deborah will be a visiting author in schools in nine states.

Excerpt from The Great Trouble:

Monday, August 28

What we now call the Great Trouble began one thick, hot, foul-smelling morning in August. ‘Course, I didn’t know it then. No one did.
I remember that day for quite another reason.
I was supposed to be dead. But somehow he had found me out.
It was early, and dark enough that most mudlarks weren’t on the river yet. I liked this time the best. The stink wasn’t quite so bad for some reason. And it was quiet, since most folks in London were still sleeping. The bustle and noise of the old city would start up soon enough.

Thumbless Jake was there, of course. The rest of us scavengers wondered if he ever did sleep. And on this particular morning, Jake was on edge, I expect because of spending so much time wading in that sludgy stink we called a river. So when he spied me snatchin’ up something shiny from the murky water, he commenced hollering like a mad bull about to charge.

Deborah Hopkinson’s website: 



Kirkus Review

“It’s impossible not to like the fictional Eel, who tells the tale in journal form from a first-person point of view, with a convincingly childcentric focus on lovable pets, lemon ice, trust and justice…A solid, somber dramatization of a real-life medical mystery.”

Publisher’s Weekly

[starred review] “…a delightful combination of race-against-the-clock medical mystery and outwit-the-bad-guys adventure…Hopkinson adeptly recreates the crowded, infested streets of London, but it’s her distinct, layered characters and turbulent, yet believable plot that make this a captivating read. As the deadly disease worsens, Dr. Snow and Eel’s deadline looms, and Eel’s past closes in on him, readers will feel the same sense of urgency—and excitement—as the characters themselves.”

School Library Journal

[starred review] “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.”

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