Synopsis: The year is 1735 and the place is the Tower of London. Forrest Harper is an 11 year old boy who is the son of the prison’s Ravenmaster. His days are spent tending to the birds, playing with his rat catching friend Ned, and providing meals to some of the prisoners. Forrest longs for adventure and receives some when a group of Scottish prisoners are sent to the tower. Amongst them is a girl named Maddy who soon fills Forrest’s ear up with tales of her home in Scotland.
As the day of Maddie’s trial and execution approaches, Forest and Ned are tempted to become part of a plot to help her escape. But there is so much at stake. If they are caught, it would surely mean death for them and great shame for Forrest’s family. What will they do?
Personal Reaction: Because I enjoy reading about history and other cultures, this was a quick and easy read for me. Woodruff packs this book with bullies, thugs, and shady people. She also does such an excellent job of building characters and moving the plot along that I truly wanted for Forrest, Ned and Maddie to prevail. After I hit the midway point of this book, I just burned through the rest. I had goosebumps as I read the final pages. I’m not sure that I can give a book higher praise than that.
Themes include father-son relationships, testing of friendships, freedom vs. captivity, bullying, the limits of patriotism, the morality of public executions, child labor, and child cruelty.
225 pages; published 2003