"A full-steam-ahead spy thriller, complete with derring-do, a dastardly villain, and a suitably complex plot."Quill & Quire starred review
"A thrilling tale of an unusual and talented young man."Publisher's Weekly
"The protagonists are likable, the villains are chilling, and the story is action packed."School Library Journal
"An excellent start to a promising new series."Kirkus
Starred Review in CCBC's Best Books for Children
2012 Children's Literature Association of Utah teen fiction
2011 Manitoba Young Readers Choice Award
2011 Pacific Northwest Library Association's YRCA
2011 Silver Birch Book Award (Ontario)
2011 Prix TAM TAM (France)
2010 Sunburst Young Adult Award
2010 Arthur Ellis Best Juvenile Crime Writing Award
2010 Canadian Library Association Children's Book of the Year
2010 National Chapter of Canada IODE Violet Downey Book Award
2010 Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children's Book Award (Vermont)
2010 Snow Willow Award (Saskatchewan Young Reader's Choice)
2010 Saskatchewan Book Award for Children's Literature
2009 Resource Links Years Best
2009 Saskatchewan Book Award Fiction Book of the Year
2009 Saskatchewan Book Award Saskatoon Book of the Year
2012 Saskatchewan Book Award: Fiction
2012 Canadian Library Association Book of the Year for Children
2012 Arthur Ellis Juvenile/YA Crime Novel
2013 Monica Hughes Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy
2013 Saskatchewan Book Award: Young Adult
2013 Canadian Library Association Book of the Year for Children
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Ebenezer Scroggy! Scrooge's name is inspired by a real-life Scottish person-Ebenezer Lennox Scroggie. Turns out Charles Dickens (the writer of A Christmas Carol--but you knew that, right?) went out for a perambulation and stumbled across a headstone that read: "Ebenezer Lennox Scroggie, Mean Man." So good ol' Charles decided that would be the perfect name for his character. And he made him mean! Turns out Dickens needed glasses because it actually read "Meal Man." Scroggie was a corn merchant who made corn meal. He was known for being rambunctious, for partying, and for being extremely generous.
Don't get Fanny mad! The Great Train Robbery of 1855 was a dashing, amazing criminal event. Robbers somehow stole many gold bars, bullion, American Eagle coins and more bullion leaving behind the same weight in lead shot on the train (the safes were weighed at every station). They would have lived like kings, too, and never been caught, except one of them cheated a woman named Fanny, who knew they had done something against the law to do with the South-eastern Railway. She told on them. They got caught. Oops.
Queen Victoria died on the 22nd of January, 1901, at the age of 81. She was buried in a white dress (she had worn black since the death of her husband 40 years earlier) and her wedding veil. She also had rings, bracelets, her husband's dressing gown, a photo of her servant John Brown (who predeceased her), a lock of John Brown's hair, shawls, handkerchiefs, and plaster casts of the hands of some of her favourite people stuffed into the coffin with her. She loved clutter!
With the invention of the pneumatic tire, bicycles became especially popular in the 1890's (a time that is often referred to as "bicycle craze"). Women especially enjoyed the bicycle because it gave them freedom to move about on their own and, because corsets and ankle length skirts were not great bicycling clothing, they switched to more liberating bloomers (shocking, eh!).
Modern badminton was "discovered" in the 19th century by British officers in India who watched locals play a game called Poona. In England it became known as "Hit and Scream." But in 1873, at the Badminton House in Gloucestershire, the British version of the game was officially launched and henceforth known as badminton.
It took fictional character Phileas Fogg 80 days to go around the world. In 1889 Nellie Bly (a real person) did it in 72 days. She was a journalist and her real name was Elizabeth Jane Cochran. She also faked insanity in order to study a mental institution from the inside.
On May 17, 1884, P. T. Barnum proved the Brooklyn Bridge was stable by having Jumbo, and a parade of 21 elephants, walk over it. Very clever marketing.
The word Boycott comes from Captain Charles Boycott who, in the 1870's, refused to give his Irish tenants a reduction in rent. So laborers and shops refused to work with him. They Boycotted him! His crops were harvested by volunteers from the north who worked under the protection of 900 soldiers.
W.H. Mumler was the first amateur Victorian photographer to take pictures of departed souls! Finally, proof! Uh, he was later prosecuted for witchcraft and for obtaining money under false pretenses. The ghosts would appears as smudges behind or beside the sitter (the image you see is President Lincoln's ghost behind his wife). Mummler swore up and down he didn't tamper with the photographic plates. It was proof for believers and something else to scorn for skeptics.
Child labour in the factories was reformed, but it continued in the farm gangs despite changes in the law, sometimes with children as young as six working full days. Women would sometimes drug their babies with opium because they needed to be free to work.
In 1869 women were allowed to go to Cambridge University, but had to take separate exams from the men and weren't considered capable of studying Latin and Greek.
Queen Victoria died in the arms of her grandson, Kaiser Wilhelm II, German emperor. 13 years later he led Germany against England in WWI.
"We're taking you to Calcraft" meant you were about to be hung, since William Calcraft was the official hangman for London and Middlesex from 1829-1874. Yeah, that's a long time to be a hangman. Between 400 and 450 people met their end with Calcraft. He was also in charge of floggings.
The flush toilet was popularized in Victorian times by a plumber named Thomas Crapper (his company had the beautiful title of: The Venerable Thomas Crapper & Company). Oh, and in case you're wondering. The verb "to crap" was apparently in use before Crapper got into the business. Perhaps that's what drew him to plumbing...
When the explorer Livingstone died in Zambia in 1873 his heart was buried under a Mvula tree (a custom of the tribe he was living with). His body was carried a thousand miles by his faithful companions, Chuma and Susi, and was returned to London to be buried in Westminster Abbey.
The term jingoism comes from the lyrics of a popular Victorian song: "We don't want to fight, but, by Jingo if we do/We've got the ships, we've got the men, we've got the money, too." It was called "The Great McDermott's Song" and was written during the time of the Russo-Turkish war. "By Jingo" was a minced oath for "by Jesus!"
The tin can opener was patented in 1870. For the previous 50 years they had used a hammer and a chisel to open cans.
Sultan Abd-ul-Aziz of the Ottoman Empire had 5500 courtiers, 600 horses, 200 carriages and a harem of 1500 women. All this while the empire was going broke. Did I mention the new palaces he also built? He was later "unpalaced" by a military coup and placed under house arrest. He committed suicide with a pair of nail scissors.
Actually, this is just one of my favourite Victorian sayings: "he's raging around like a bob-tailed bull in fly time."
On June 9th, 1865, a train went off the track near Staplehurst. All the first class coaches fell into a ravine except one--it contained Charles Dickens.
Thomas Carlyle's only copy of his just completed history of The French Revolution was accidentally burned by a maid. Doh! He had to write it again from scratch.
The bodies of hanged criminals were given to anatomy clinics for dissection.
Queen Victoria, after the death of her husband Prince Albert in 1861, wore only black until her death in 1901 (she was buried in a white dress and her white wedding veil).
Arthur Conan Doyle was paid 35 pounds sterling per Sherlock story, then 50 pounds, and finally (after resurrecting Sherlock) he was paid 5000 pounds per story. Nice increase!
Victorians feared being accidentally buried while in a coma, so you could buy coffins with bells, speaking trumpets, and flags that would pop up if you woke up.
John "Iron Mad" Wilkinson loved iron so much he had nearly everything around him made of iron...including his coffin.
In 1862 Gabriel Rossetti, in a fit of sadness, buried his manuscript of poems with his dead wife. In 1869 he had the poems dug up again. Eww! Not sure if his wife was finished reading them.
Many shipyards existed in Scotland, so that led to many of the ships having a Scottish engineer on board which is what likely inspired the nationality of Scotty in Star Trek.
The "snap" mousetrap (aka the "little nipper") was a Victorian invention. It hasn't changed since. Then again, mice haven't changed either.