The Twisted Threads of Polly Freeman by Pippa Goodhart
A moving tale of hard times in the 1830s. Polly and her Great Aunt Jem scratch a living by their sewing and mending but when their landlady throws them out on the street they end up in a workhouse in St Pancras.
Visions of Oliver Twist ensue with grey, sloppy gruel and hard, unpaid work until Polly befriends Min and together they are sold as apprentices to a Manchester cotton mill.
The story paints a vivid picture of the heat, noise and unrelenting grind of children’s labour in Victorian mills but Polly has a fiery spirit so keeps a sense of optimism and is determined to be reunited with her Great Aunt.
In her quest she hears tales of the Scottish Mother and African Father whom she never knew. She finds resonance with her own lot as an unpaid apprentice, no different from a slave, and her Father’s enslavement in Jamaica.
This book is highly recommended and gives an absorbing insight into poor children’s lives in that era. It would enhance any historical curriculum topic on Victorian England by giving a child’s perspective of those hard times.