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Street Child (Collins Modern Classics)

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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 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?


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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 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?

30 review for Street Child (Collins Modern Classics)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Hall

    Gripping and vivid tale of a destitute child’s life on the streets sent to the workhouse in 1860s London Berlie Doherty takes what little is known about the London urchin and child, Jim Jarvis, reputed to have inspired Dr Barnardo to set up his homes for destitute children, and weaves a riveting fictional account of his possible experiences. Following the death of his father that saw his family evicted from their former cottage, Jim Jarvis and his sisters, Emily and Lizzie, move to a single room w Gripping and vivid tale of a destitute child’s life on the streets sent to the workhouse in 1860s London Berlie Doherty takes what little is known about the London urchin and child, Jim Jarvis, reputed to have inspired Dr Barnardo to set up his homes for destitute children, and weaves a riveting fictional account of his possible experiences. Following the death of his father that saw his family evicted from their former cottage, Jim Jarvis and his sisters, Emily and Lizzie, move to a single room within a tenement in the slums of London with their mother. When an outbreak of cholera leave cook, Annie, unable to work it sees the family deposited to the street and Ma Jarvis doing everything she can to avoid the workhouse for her brood. Whilst her two daughters are taken to an old friend with a possible use for a kitchen hand there is nothing for Jim and his mother but the workhouse and when policemen come across his ailing mother slumped on the street they are carted off. But on arrival Jim’s mother is taken to the infirmary, from where he never sees her again and is simply told of her death. Although Jim gets used to the casual brutality of the workhouse and learns to make his way, even making the nearest thing to a friend, he knows escape is his only hope for the future. Savvy but in no way a match for the realities of life on the streets, Jim’s loneliness and vulnerability in the face of a host of demoralising experiences is palpable, with his happiest times spent amongst the many fellow street boys who watch each other’s backs. Sold into servitude by a single coin and handed over to a drunkard thug named Grimy Nick, he is led between the wharves into the backbreaking job of shovelling coal in a lighter boat. Treated worse than an animal and finally back on the steets, Jim eventually meets Dr Barnardo, whose ‘Ragged School’ for the poor had already been established. It is the philanthropist’s abject horror at the fate facing Jim and his fellow rooftop sleepers without homes or benefactors that spurs him on to campaign amongst the wealthy for funds to establish his foundation for destitute children and provide them with a home. In a book of short chapters that seem to take Jim from the misery of life at the workhouse through a series of wretched and brutal experiences, Berlie Doherty makes apparent the plight of street orphans in the Victorian era. Avoiding romanticising Jim’s experiences, the harsh realities of his and many other children’s precarious lives are illustrated in an emotive and unexpectedly poignant novel. It is not only the period that comes alive in Doherty’s authentic story but the character of Jim, whose pluck and fortitude compels the reader to vie for him every step of the way as his spirit is broken time and again. Touches of humour from Jim and the kindness of strangers that mean so much when he has so little add genuine moments of brightness to a fantastic read. Aimed at the ages 8-12 and Year 5/6 of primary school, the book is also a worthwhile and engaging read for adults and those interested in the Victorian era.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

    I have been reading this book with my class at school as a guided reading book and found it very interesting and realistic to the time period in London that it is set. Street Child is a boy called Jim's story. Jim looses his mother, gets separated from his sisters and finds himself in a workhouse. Jim's story of loss, anguish and abuse continues from here and really tugs at your heart. The children I teach were really drawn in by the story and found it shocking the way children were treated and h I have been reading this book with my class at school as a guided reading book and found it very interesting and realistic to the time period in London that it is set. Street Child is a boy called Jim's story. Jim looses his mother, gets separated from his sisters and finds himself in a workhouse. Jim's story of loss, anguish and abuse continues from here and really tugs at your heart. The children I teach were really drawn in by the story and found it shocking the way children were treated and how life was in those times. The book is related to John Barnardo who set up and founded Barnardos the charity back in 1867 and two pages of information is set out in the back of the book. I didn't realise this book is part of a series of standalone novels so I will be looking at getting the next book soon.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Celia

    Getting exciting. Great! BRILL! TRUE AND A VERY SAD STORY SET IN THE 1860'S! Looking forward to finding out what happens next! Superb!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Emma Walker

    This book follows a young boy named Jim who is found homeless in London after the death of his mother. The book begins with Jim living with his mother and two sisters, but it becomes clear very early that the family do not have much money and are asked to leave the small room that they share after falling behind with the rent. Jim’s sick mother is forced to leave her daughters with a friend and Jim is taken to the workhouse. His mother dies here, and after Jims escape he becomes homeless on the This book follows a young boy named Jim who is found homeless in London after the death of his mother. The book begins with Jim living with his mother and two sisters, but it becomes clear very early that the family do not have much money and are asked to leave the small room that they share after falling behind with the rent. Jim’s sick mother is forced to leave her daughters with a friend and Jim is taken to the workhouse. His mother dies here, and after Jims escape he becomes homeless on the streets of London and is faced with many issues and scary encounters. I read this story with a year five class over the course of three weeks. The children were captivated by Jim’s plight and were eager to continue reading to the end. Most of the children were able to sympathise with Jim after considering their own lives and comparing that to the life of Jim. There were sensitive issues in the story, such as Jim losing his mother and being evicted from his home, and these had to be dealt with delicately. Whilst reading this story, pupils were able to engage in many thought provoking activities including debates about the workhouse versus the streets. Pupils also carried out several literacy based activities including newspaper articles and letters that Jim wrote to his sisters whilst in the workhouse. This book could easily be used as a cross curricular resource in literacy and history, with its links to the Victorian times. I really enjoyed reading this story with the class, who could really identify with the character and show understanding of some of the issues in the story. I think that the story is best suited to pupils in upper key stage 2 or above.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    Jim Jarvis is a young boy living as a runaway in the 1860s, one of thousands of homeless children. Despite this book being functional, it is based on the history of Barnardo’s and the ‘ragged school’.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Street Child by Berlie Doherty is about Jim Jarvis whose mother dies and he is left an orphan in London to fend for himself. He is picked up by the Police and sent to the work house. Jim dreams of escaping and one day he finally takes his chance annd makes his escape. The story takes you on a journey through his life and the many people he meets and jobs he has in order to survive. He finds an old friend of his mother’s who takes him and he helps her sell seafood in the streets. However Jim is t Street Child by Berlie Doherty is about Jim Jarvis whose mother dies and he is left an orphan in London to fend for himself. He is picked up by the Police and sent to the work house. Jim dreams of escaping and one day he finally takes his chance annd makes his escape. The story takes you on a journey through his life and the many people he meets and jobs he has in order to survive. He finds an old friend of his mother’s who takes him and he helps her sell seafood in the streets. However Jim is turned out by her family and sent to work at the docks on a coal lighter. He works tirelessly for a horrible man who stops Jim from running away by by tying a rope round his neck and having his dog keep guard. Jim again escapes from the dock yard and runs off to join the Circus, however he is found by his old boss and finds himself on the run once again. Jim finds his way back to London and lives rough on the streets as with many of ther other young boys. Jim ducks and dives to steal food and keep away from the Police. After running out of options Jim finally attends the ragged school and he meets his teacher who is kind and does not beat him. He asks to stay at the school as he has no where else to go. The teacher persuades Jim to take him to where all the boys sleep rough. The teacher feels so sorry for all the boys that he sets up a home for them and finds them jobs so that they can pay their way. I thought this was a good book as so many different things happen to the main character and you are willing him to find a kind person who will look after him. It reminds children about hardship and how difficult life can be. This book would be good for a year six class as it links in well with topics such as the Victorians and Doctor Barnardos.

  7. 4 out of 5

    مريم

    Love it! Might write the review later, I've wasted enough time I need to do my work now!! -- I loved this book for many reasons: 1. I enjoy reading books that are set in London. 2. Historical Fiction. 3. A book that you actually LEARN from. I learned about how life in England was in the 1800s, and about the workhouses! Which is something I didn't really know about before. 4. About a little boy's struggle for survival. 5. The cover............

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ellie L

    An excellent piece of historical fiction showcasing the struggles of an orphan child trying to survive alone in merciless Victorian London. After his mother dies Jim is flung from one extreme of deprivation to another. Forced into the Workhouse and then unwillingly sold for child labour; at first it seems to be cruel adults that rest at the root of Jim’s suffering. As time progresses, the system of privilege being prioritized over the poor becomes more apparent. It was warming to see the glimmer An excellent piece of historical fiction showcasing the struggles of an orphan child trying to survive alone in merciless Victorian London. After his mother dies Jim is flung from one extreme of deprivation to another. Forced into the Workhouse and then unwillingly sold for child labour; at first it seems to be cruel adults that rest at the root of Jim’s suffering. As time progresses, the system of privilege being prioritized over the poor becomes more apparent. It was warming to see the glimmers of kindness shining within those who may not be so fortunate themselves. This was a gripping read- Doherty does not shy away from society’s abusive treatment towards children and those in need. The narrative was, at times, rather grim, but is one that really illustrates the resilience of those children and adults who endured such a brutal time. Very interesting to see where the wheels for change were set in motion towards a more charitable and caring society.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Hollie

    This is the book I used for my English assignment. It is a great story to read with middle/upper KS2. There are some parts that are quite upsetting but it allows for the teacher to help develop these emotions within the children and allow them to feel empathy for characters. It is also a very informative book at the same time, educating the reader on the Victorian times. For example, workhouses.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Neal

    One of my most favourite books to read as a child. I can still remember reading it in Year 6 and being so moved by main character's struggle. A great read for children interested in history.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Pippa Jessop

    This book was recommended to me by a year 5 TA as they had used it for literacy in their class. After reading the first few pages I was hooked and finished this book within hours! This story is so inspiring because it it based on a true story of a young boy's life journey of losing his mother and being sent to the work house. You really do empathise with Jim the main character, such a great read!!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Laura Dowsett

    This is the story of Jim Jarvis, a boy who is orphaned and forced to work in an East London workhouse. Eventually, fearing that his whole life will be spent in the workhouse, Jim decides to escape. The rest of the book follows his journey through London. During this time he tries to find his sisters (who he was separated from when he was put in the workhouse), works for a cruel and abusive man on a coal boat and lives as a ‘street child.’ It is during his time on the streets that he meets Barney This is the story of Jim Jarvis, a boy who is orphaned and forced to work in an East London workhouse. Eventually, fearing that his whole life will be spent in the workhouse, Jim decides to escape. The rest of the book follows his journey through London. During this time he tries to find his sisters (who he was separated from when he was put in the workhouse), works for a cruel and abusive man on a coal boat and lives as a ‘street child.’ It is during his time on the streets that he meets Barney (Dr. Barnardo). With the help of Barney Jim is given a second chance as a Barnardo’s child. I read this book during SEA with a year 5 class as it linked well with our Mantel of the Expert topic (the Victorians). We followed the QCA scheme of work for this book; this gives you a pre prepared lesson plan frame and a IWB programme. Although this scheme of work was a good basis, it was somewhat limited in the creativity of lessons so I adapted it a lot. Nevertheless, it is worth looking at as it was helpful in dividing the book into sections to read and gave a few good ideas for lessons (e.g. conscience alleys). The children really enjoyed reading this book and, as the school was in Ilford and not far away from one of Barnardo’s children’s homes, they were especially interested in the work of Barnardo and the life of children within these homes. I thought that it was great that the book had sparked such interest in them! There were a few moments in the book that dealt with difficult issues; for example, the death of Jim’s mother. The book dealt with such issues very sensitively, but because of some of the content, I would not recommend reading this book with children younger than year 5.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rana Adham

    My introduction to London street life when you're a homeless child was through this book. It is not a "David Copperfield" nor an "Oliver Twist", but it is still a touching commentary on human cruelty and compassion.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kerry

    Read this out loud with my 10 year old daughter and we've really enjoyed it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    Age- KS2 (4,5) Characters- Jim, Tip, Joe, Mother, Sisters, Rosie, Nick Story- Jim's mother is very ill which leads to his sisters being sent to a rich house for work and he goes to the workhouse, His mother dies and he spends over a year there, he then escapes and works on the streets selling fish with his Mother's friend (Rosie) for a short time. Her grandfather then finds tip and sells him to a man named Grimy Nick who forces him to shovel coal on his boat every day, and only pays him with meals Age- KS2 (4,5) Characters- Jim, Tip, Joe, Mother, Sisters, Rosie, Nick Story- Jim's mother is very ill which leads to his sisters being sent to a rich house for work and he goes to the workhouse, His mother dies and he spends over a year there, he then escapes and works on the streets selling fish with his Mother's friend (Rosie) for a short time. Her grandfather then finds tip and sells him to a man named Grimy Nick who forces him to shovel coal on his boat every day, and only pays him with meals when he remembers. Themes- death, solitude, Victorian, poor. Classroom: Children could write a diary entry from Jim's perspective in the workhouse. The could make predictions (writing a chapter), about whether he escapes or gets caught. This could link to the Victorians and learning about the other classes, and the role of boys and girls in the Victorian era, as the girls/women work in the kitchens and as cleaners if they are lucky, whereas men do manual labour (but not if they are rich).

  16. 5 out of 5

    Tokesy2000

    Full marks for this book. It's a beautiful insight to the lives of street children in the 1800s. I first read this in my last year of junior school as a part of studying History, it helped me realise that the cruel lives of Victorian children aren't just distant stories made up to make kids appreciate what they got, but they were reality for children. The author is good at describing the settings ofthe Victorian period which makes the story feel more real. The pacing of it is good, and it managed Full marks for this book. It's a beautiful insight to the lives of street children in the 1800s. I first read this in my last year of junior school as a part of studying History, it helped me realise that the cruel lives of Victorian children aren't just distant stories made up to make kids appreciate what they got, but they were reality for children. The author is good at describing the settings ofthe Victorian period which makes the story feel more real. The pacing of it is good, and it managed to captivate me as a 10 year old and still does years later. I think Berlie Doherty did very well with what she had, as not a lot is known about Jim Jarvis (the main protagonist), so she had a massive job filling In gaps while making it believable. It's a story every British child should read at least once, as it details the horrors some of our ancestors had to live through, but in a way that is easy to understand.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sally

    Had recently enjoyed the sequel (about what happened to his sisters), thinking I must have read the original. But then wasn't sure. So now I know I've definitley read it! This book has been around since the 1990s and it's the story of Jim Jarvis, a real destitute boy whose circumstances in the 1860s so moved Dr Barnardo (who was already running a 'ragged school' providing free education during the day to poor children) that he decided to raise money to set up loving homes for such children as Ji Had recently enjoyed the sequel (about what happened to his sisters), thinking I must have read the original. But then wasn't sure. So now I know I've definitley read it! This book has been around since the 1990s and it's the story of Jim Jarvis, a real destitute boy whose circumstances in the 1860s so moved Dr Barnardo (who was already running a 'ragged school' providing free education during the day to poor children) that he decided to raise money to set up loving homes for such children as Jim. There was one of these villages of homes near where I used to live, in Barkingside. If I've one criticism, it's that the front cover illustration shows a boy who is far too well-clad.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Leah Smith

    A gripping book that doesn't shy away from the brutal reality of life for a lower class Victorian child. There are some topics about death that may have to be dealt with more carefully. Best suited for upper KS2. Potential entry text for more challenging texts such as Oliver Twist or David Copperfield that children may experience at secondary school. Good for those studying Victorians, or even looking at Dr Barnardo. Easy cross curricular links with history- children's place in society, men and w A gripping book that doesn't shy away from the brutal reality of life for a lower class Victorian child. There are some topics about death that may have to be dealt with more carefully. Best suited for upper KS2. Potential entry text for more challenging texts such as Oliver Twist or David Copperfield that children may experience at secondary school. Good for those studying Victorians, or even looking at Dr Barnardo. Easy cross curricular links with history- children's place in society, men and women's roles, social classes. Could use this for letter writing from Jim to his sisters. I used this text for a guided reading activity.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ns

    This book follows Jim Jarvis, an orphan who manages to make his way out of the awful work houses of London. We're taken along his painful journey to seek freedom and meet other street boys, all of whom unfortunately don't manage to break free like Jim does. Grimy Nick is detestable and the reader experiences the horrors he inflicts on poor Jim for a while until Jim jumps on an opportunity to escape (I won't spoil it for you!) Whilst reading this book, you'll find yourself willing Jim to carry on This book follows Jim Jarvis, an orphan who manages to make his way out of the awful work houses of London. We're taken along his painful journey to seek freedom and meet other street boys, all of whom unfortunately don't manage to break free like Jim does. Grimy Nick is detestable and the reader experiences the horrors he inflicts on poor Jim for a while until Jim jumps on an opportunity to escape (I won't spoil it for you!) Whilst reading this book, you'll find yourself willing Jim to carry on and will feel joy by the end of the story where you will finally manage to meet the Dr.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Gabriella

    Welcome to Victorian England. Be drawn in by a tale that gets its origins from a true story that will make you shudder, boo and want desperately for the main character to get a break. The tale grows in its own strengths and paints a picture that draws you into a world you would never wish to experience. A tale that morphs and latches its claws in you making you want to keep reading to find out the next twist. A worthwhile read that I started as a loan and ended up buying just so I could finish it Welcome to Victorian England. Be drawn in by a tale that gets its origins from a true story that will make you shudder, boo and want desperately for the main character to get a break. The tale grows in its own strengths and paints a picture that draws you into a world you would never wish to experience. A tale that morphs and latches its claws in you making you want to keep reading to find out the next twist. A worthwhile read that I started as a loan and ended up buying just so I could finish it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Christine Ottaway

    A heart rending story of Jim, the street child and the tough life he led in Victorian London. The author doesn't hold back on any of the details of cruelty and hardship that so many adults and children faced in those day but it is so well written. The story ends well with Jim being found by Dr Barnardo who sets up homes for boys and later girls like Jim. Barnardos still does great work with children today. Essential read for anyone studying the Victorians whether at school or just out of interest.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lenthe

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I really liked the book. I like reading about orphans, and I really liked this story about Jim! What makes this book about an orphan a little more special is that Jim is not in an orphan house. It depends on the day where he sleeps and eats. There are also books where the main character is in an orphan house. The book is mostly situated there. If you also are into reading about orphans and a little tension, I highly recommend this book to you. You shouldn’t read it if you don’t like sad books and I really liked the book. I like reading about orphans, and I really liked this story about Jim! What makes this book about an orphan a little more special is that Jim is not in an orphan house. It depends on the day where he sleeps and eats. There are also books where the main character is in an orphan house. The book is mostly situated there. If you also are into reading about orphans and a little tension, I highly recommend this book to you. You shouldn’t read it if you don’t like sad books and you prefer to read a happy book. But I think it’s absolutely worth it to read!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    I loved how it linked to dr Bannado as well as being exciting and enjoyable so I could fulfill my homework , to learn about Dr Bannardo , in a happy way . Street Child tells you how it really was to be a Victorian child and the typical highs and lows of that time . Around the point from the workhouse to grimly Nick , I lost a little bit of interest but this was made up for by other good points throughout the book .

  24. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    A fictional account of the experiences of Jim Jarvis, a young orphan who escapes the workhouse in 1860's London and survives brutal treatment and desperate circumstances until he is taken in by Dr. Barnardo, founder of a school for the city's "ragged" children. This was chosen by my a member of my book group who hadn't realised it was a children's story. For an adult it was entertaining but simplistic.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Andy Verschoyle

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. emotionally challenging story great history lesson - educational and also one to compare with how we live now. lots to discuss in a social and cultural context, examining the behaviours of the various characters : rich toward the poor, poor to each other, adults to children, children to each other and most importantly the need for people to care for each other

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kirsty

    I read this with a class of yr 5 children, and they found it very interesting. We used it to learn about workhouses, and most children found this quite shocking! Some difficult themes are explored within the story, such as death and poverty. Children used this to write newspaper reports about a workhouse they researched.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    Really good story for introducing Victorian life to children, I’m sure they would find it absolutely unbelievable how hard it was to live in that era. I did find the ending a little rushed and would have liked it to be explored in more depth. Interesting to find it was based on real people.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kirsty Newman

    Loved this book as a child. Read it at school as a class novel I found it so interesting and engaging because it was insightful to see how children lived differently to how I did and how things have changed!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Read this to tie in with KS2 unit on the Victorians. Great language to analyse. Slides for other teachers to use here: https://docs.google.com/presentation/... Read this to tie in with KS2 unit on the Victorians. Great language to analyse. Slides for other teachers to use here: https://docs.google.com/presentation/...

  30. 5 out of 5

    Daisy Leather

    This was traumatic. Very vivid, I really felt like I had been transported to Victorian England. My brain can't stop thinking about everything that these poor children had to go through. Teaching this to y5 next year - can't wait to do the Industrial Revolution with them.

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