My topic at school for the next term is the Victorians, so I’ve been on the lookout for a few class texts that will support our learning. Having seen a few articles about Gaslight online, I thought I’d give it a go. Thankfully, it’s a fantastic read that has given me a whole host of lesson ideas.
Told from perspective of Nanci, a young girl who lost her mother, this book is set in Victorian Cardiff. I liked the fact it was set in Cardiff, as the large majority of children’s books about the Victorian era are set in London. Throughout it tells of Nanci’s life in a music hall, how she survives the conditions and follows her journey to find her mother.
The book draws the reader in with its fast pace and by creating vivid images of the setting. The squalid conditions aren’t glossed over, neither is the sinister nature of Nanci’s existence. Yet despite the numerous dark and sinister moments, there are lighter moments when the themes of friendship and hope shine through.
Nanci herself is an instantly likable character, who has all the hallmarks of a great heroine. She is strong, determined and has a strong empathetic and caring nature. In fact, her relationships and the interplay between the characters is what made the book standout for me.
All in all, Gaslight is an engaging read with an accessible Dickensian feel. The unusual setting, strong protagonist and a tight plot will appeal to 9-12 year olds. I thoroughly enjoyed it and cannot wait to begin sharing with my class next week.
Age Recommendation: 9-12
Pages: 198 pages
Publisher: Firefly Press Ltd