We very much enjoy reading books together, as you surely know by now if you read my blog much. When I was offered the chance to review Britfield & the Lost Crown, I thought we would enjoy it, although we don’t very often read books that are purely adventure stories, as this one is. I found it amusing, all the way through, the way some of the older children griped about the things they didn’t like about the story—yet I caught one of them reading ahead a couple of times!
The story begins in an orphanage somewhere in England. This is not a nice place to be; actually, the place seems like a nightmare. Not only are the orphans treated purely as slave labor, they must follow a myriad of nonsensical rules, they are nearly starved, and not allowed to learn anything. Tom is finally fed up with all this, and after learning, somewhat by accident, that his parents are still living, as well as that his life is about to become absolutely unbearable, he decides it’s time to escape—with Sarah, his best friend.
The adventures begin! One narrow escape follows another, but when the two children are surrounded at the train station, what can they do? Detective Gowerstone won’t give up—they can’t either! Suddenly, they find a hot air balloon ready to take off—and commandeer it. Where will they end up? In the course of trying frantically to stay free, they find themselves, over the next few days, in Oxford, Windsor Castle, and London. Finally, they reach the end of the line, with nowhere left to go. What will happen to them now? Will they ever learn the truth about Tom’s family, which has been hinted at ever since they left the orphanage? Which people are really their friends—and which their enemies?
As I mentioned at the beginning, the older children (ages 13-21) had a lot to gripe about in this book. They felt like there were too many incongruities; the story is set in the present, but in some ways feels medieval. The countless narrow escapes were too unrealistic, and the action was over the top. Yet, at the same time, they wanted to hear the rest of the story! The younger ones (ages 7-9) simply enjoyed the adventurous aspect!
I agree with my older children that the action is a bit overdone. I also did not like the violence; there was shooting several times, and some other violence. There was also a fair amount of questionable language, and some lying. However, if you are looking for a book to get boys reading, and don’t mind the language I’ve listed below, as well as some violence, this is definitely a story that will appeal. On the other hand, the vocabulary used in this book is rich! That was another complaint from some in my family, but I, personally, loved it.
There is a study guide that goes along with Britfield & the Lost Crown. It is available as a free download for teachers and homeschoolers here. The first 6 chapters are studied in pairs; the rest of the 17 chapters are studied singly. Each chapter has a vocabulary section, and a comprehension section where the child is to answer questions about the action in the story. Then, there is a “digging deeper” section, where the child is to think about his or her personal reaction to some part of the story. After that are suggestions for researching various topics or people mentioned in the story. I thought, at first, that maybe we would use this study guide, but we didn’t end up doing anything with it. We just read and enjoyed the story! It would be good for vocabulary and comprehension practice, as well as the geography and history of England.
WARNING: Chapter 6: What the heck. Chapter 7: oh my gosh, what the heck, yikes, darn, blimey, bloody, darn, what the heck. Chapter 9: bloody, idiot, what the heck. Chapter 10: you stinking little brat, that blaggard, you dicey little scoundrel, “Rubbish,” he cursed. Chapter 11: someone lies twice (I think this happened other times, too, but I didn’t note them). Chapter 13: bloody, get the heck out of here, smashing glass in someone’s face. Chapter 13: wha da heck, blasted, bloody. Chapter 15: you stupid little man, knocking someone unconscious, you idiot, stupid. Chapter 16: cursing, that freak.
Be sure to click the picture below to read what 74 other families thought of this book!