We read a lot, but this book is one of those that has blown us away. And I can honestly say that this story is going to stay with both of my kids for a long time. If you have a kiddo in the 10+ age range that is learning about the Industrial Revolution / factory life in Victorian England then this is a story for them to read. It is a fictional story but it is based on the living conditions of many factory workers and it gives insights into why there were strikes and protests.
Lightning Strike centers around a young girl, Eliza, who lives with her family and works in the local match factory. She is angry about her life, about how they are treated and how they can never improve anything. Through a chance meeting with a woman who wants to write about their living conditions, Eliza and her sister end up in a tough situation and she walks out of her job which results in everyone leaving the factory and the start of a strike. It is a well-written story with a strong female lead (Eliza, the character develops beautifully in the story), some emotional moments and you end up routing for the match girls. The story itself would stand on its own just because of the structure and the characters but what really kicks it up into one of our “not going to be forgotten” stories is how it paints a realistic scene of Victorian life. It makes it all so real for the kids that they are not going to forget, the beetles scurrying around the houses, eating your food with phosphorus on it, how the staff where fined for ridiculous reasons, how the two older girls in the family had to work so that there family were able to pay the rent and yet they still sometimes went hungry. There really are too many things in this book to mention, but by just reading the story, getting involved in Eliza’s life both of my kids have absorbed these facts and now really do have a grip on this whole side of Victorian life. I really do think it is one of the best resources you could use with your kids if you are looking at this time period.
And because the story is part of the new Super-Readable Rollercoaster series there is a Free to download teacher’s pack which goes with it. We used the pack and I found it really useful (when I use these packs I never do every activity mentioned, I read the ideas included and pull out the ones we want to use). There is a overview of the scheme of work – it is broken down into 10 possible lesson. For each lesson there is a one page lesson guide which breaks down what that lesson is covering suggested activities and points you to included resources. The lessons are written for teacher’s but home educators can easily use them as well. And the resources are varied, which we like. Also they have included suggested answers for the different activities at the end of the pack.
Why would I recommend 10+ and not younger? There are a few things in there that I think younger kids may not fully understand, they talk about the main character (Eliza’s) father who has mistresses, they also talk about the dockworkers drinking a lot and coming home and hitting the wives. It is just mentioned, but it is there. Also it deals with things like a a young girl going bald, having all her teeth pulled out (something which mine found emotional), workers dying of Phossy Jaw, the potential of starving. So that is why I would say for 10+ because it does deal with this very real side of Victorian life but a side that I think younger kids may struggle with.
I really do think this an incredible book because it brought this whole period and the struggles of the factory workers to life. I highly recommend this for anyone learning about the Victorian period.
We got our copy from OUP – Lightning Strike but you can also get it from Amazon Lightning Strike (Super-readable Rollercoasters)
Admin Bit – We were sent a few of the Super-Readable Rollercoaster books to read. This had not impact on highly I think of this story.
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