Smith, by Leon Garfield
Smith, a Carnegie Honor book, by Leon Garfield
Smith, by Leon Garfield: Dickens for kids!
When I was a child I had a tendency to get stuck in a rut when it came to choosing books. I read one Secret Seven book, so then I had to read all the others in the series; ditto The Famous Five, The Three Investigators, and every Dr Who book in print. The only reason I read Smith, when I was about ten or eleven, was that we were made to read it at school. It was unlike anything I had ever read before. It was intelligent, exciting, historical fiction. I imagine the author was aiming for a sort of "Dickens for kids."
Also, this was the first time I had read a book along with a teacher - we got to discuss the book as we read it, and the teacher pointed out all sorts of things I would not have noticed on my own. This changed the way I read books forever - after Smith I would always think about what I was reading, rather than just ploughing through it.
Ever since then, I have had an interest in history. Today I actually write kids history stories myself, and I suspect it was that great book by Leon Garfield that started me off on that path.
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