Title: Kidnapped by River Rats
Author: Dave & Neta Jackson
Series: Trailblazer Books
Major Themes: Salvation Army, William and Catherine Booth
Synopsis: Homeless, Jack and Amy search for a new home—but when Amy hurts her foot, the need becomes even more desperate. Will the Salvation Army be able to help the children?
Several years ago, when I was on a bit of a Trailblazer series reading-binge, I remember we borrowed Kidnapped by River Rats from someone—perhaps Grandma; I don’t quite remember. Mom read it as a read-aloud to us, and I absolutely loved the story! Although I did get tired of the stories after a while, this one struck me as one of the better ones from the series. So when I picked it up again in order to review it, I was excited to see whether my original impressions still held true—and to my delight, I ended up really enjoying it! This is a good book.
Jack and his sister Amy have a problem. With their mother dead, they’re now put out on the streets because they can’t pay rent. Things get worse as they are soon out of food, and Amy sprains her ankle. Is there anyone in the big city of London who can help them? They find a temporary corner to stay, but Jack knows it won’t last long. If only they can find their uncle—he may be able to help them; but no one seems to know where he is! Then Jack meets the Salvation Army, and wonders if perhaps they can help. Bad goes to worse, however, before he can contact them—Amy disappears. Jack fears the worst. Can he find her before she’s shipped off, or will he be completely deserted on the rough London streets?
Through the eyes of a young boy, we get to see William and Catherine Booth’s ministry to the poor come to life. Although Kidnapped by River Rats might not be the most exciting story ever, it does give a fairly realistic idea of what it would have been like for a typical youngster living in the late 1800s in London. Life wasn’t easy for anyone, and the working conditions were not that great, but the Salvation Army did succeed in raising awareness about the problems, and did a lot of good there. They may not have been perfect, but they loved the Lord and strove to follow Him. And this book sums up perfectly just a little snippet of them fulfilling their part in being the hands and feet of Jesus to those who needed Him.
WARNING: In Chapter 1, a dog attacks a boy while looking for food. In chapter 3, a boy steals an apple, and an angry man hurts a boy and a girl. Chapter 6 mentions a horn player in the Salvation Army getting hurt, and tells of a pub owner hiring a boy to help run the Army off. Chapter 8 has a character telling about men who kidnapped girls to sell them as mistresses in Europe.
Read Aloud—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 13, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12