Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Spotlight on Caroline Lawrence's "The Roman Mysteries" with "The Sewer Demon" by Caroline Lawrence and Helen Forte (Orion Children's Books)

Charlotte loves history! At risk of sounding like one of those horribly pushy parents who will try and convince you that their tiny toddler is well versed in the machinations of ancient Mesopotamia, or is fully knowledgeable about Ancient Greece, Charlotte really does love history. So when the lovely Caroline Lawrence offered us the chance to combine this love of history with a goodly dose of Roman life, wrapped up in an exciting (and quite scary) story, how could we possibly resist?

"The Sewer Demon" is one of many books in Caroline's utterly fantastic "Roman Mysteries" books. In this particular story we meet Threptus, a young boy who ekes out a living on the streets of Rome, begging and performing odd jobs while constantly living on his wits.

Avoiding bullies, and becoming embroiled in a rather intriguing mystery, Threptus is an instantly engaging character that, despite the time and setting of the novel, children will really bond with and perhaps even identify with.

Threptus is drawn into solving the rather spooky case of a rich woman's house, haunted by a nefarious midnight visitor. Locals all speak of a demon but is there more to the mystery than meets the eye, and can Threptus' keen mind and quick wits see through to what's really going on?

Though technically these books are probably a little 'old' for Charlotte, reading them to her in bite-sized chunks was brilliant. With a heady mix of fact and fiction, we get to know a lot more about Ancient Rome and the day-to-day life of an empire that once spanned the globe.

The great thing about the Roman Mysteries books is that we can dive out to any of the history books and encyclopaedias we keep at home and find the real-life counterparts of what Caroline so expertly describes in her stories. Once again, this mixing of stories with fact makes the books absolutely perfect for school but for us, utterly addictive for home too.

It's not hard to see why the "Roman Mysteries" series is so popular. Popular enough, in fact, to have spawned a CBBC TV Series which we hadn't even picked up on but really must sit down and watch more of. Here's a clip.

There's also an accompanying site for Caroline's brilliant books and characters.

For now, we'll be diving back in to Threptus' world very soon indeed. Fortes Fortuna Iuvat!

Charlotte's best bit: Some rather lovely descriptions of Roman food (Honey cakes make MY stomach rumble too!) and some great scary bits! Romans were a very superstitious lot :)

Daddy's favourite bit: Beautifully descriptive language and some brilliant hooks in "The Sewer Demon" to serve as a lure to investigate the scintillating subject of Ancient Rome further. Fab-u-LOUS!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Caroline Lawrence / Orion Children's Books)