STINK ALLEY by Jamie Gilson


Age Range: 9 - 12
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A departure from the author’s contemporary settings, this historical novel blends an engaging story about likable main characters with the context and culture that led to the Mayflower pilgrims settling Plimouth Plantation. Set in Holland in 1614, 12-year-old Lizzy and her parents have joined a group of Separatists who fled England and the Church with William Brewster and settled in Leiden to practice their religious beliefs. When her parents died, Master Brewster took Lizzy in, but her talkative nature and willful spirit got her into trouble with his strict religious practices. When she hires herself out as a cook and kitchen helper, a young mischievous boy cleverly gets her a job, after tricking her into grabbing a windmill sail to save him. Constantly sketching with chalk and refusing to tell his name, the boy overhears two King’s men asking at the printing shop about Master Brewster. Lizzy breaks rules to alert Brewster of the danger (he’s writing subversive tracts) and disobeys by not telling when her friend and his brother escape from their brutal jobs at the wool mill. The title (where the Brewsters live) and the cover with a Pippi Longstocking–looking girl clinging to a windmill sail will draw kids in while colorful and “flavorful” depictions of the times when baths were rare and eating eel was a treat will enjoyably gross them out. Many readers will not foresee the build-up to the identity of the boy artist—Rembrandt—and the device works well. An afterword details the historical facts and cites how Gilson envisioned both the real characters and the ones she invented. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: May 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-688-17864-2
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2002


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