historical fiction for kids set in London or Malta?
October 9, 2017 4:58 PM   Subscribe

I asked this before about different spots a few years ago, but now I have an older kid too, so let's try it again.

My family is going to be get to do some traveling next year, including to Malta and to London. Do you know any novels set in those places that I can give to my kids (8 and 12) to give them at least a smidge of familiarity with the settings? (Something with more flavor of place than Harry Potter.)
Movies might be useful too.

Bonus: I'd enjoy some good reading set in or about Malta myself. And London too, why not? I know my Plantagenets and Tudors very well, but would love to read stuff that takes place from James I onward...

posted by fingersandtoes to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: We read Cue for Treason in school around the upper end of that age range. That was a long time ago, but I seem to recall that the book was very enjoyable, while even then I considered the plot rather implausible.
posted by sueinnyc at 5:11 PM on October 9, 2017

Best answer: Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman is set in a fantasy London (and is a fantastic book). The recent Paddington movie is also good and funny and very London.
posted by Sebmojo at 5:25 PM on October 9, 2017

There’s always Dickens works like Oliver Twist.

You can then go on a walk visiting locations from the books.
posted by monotreme at 5:41 PM on October 9, 2017

Best answer: The Kappillan of Malta by Nicholas Monsarrat. It's not meant for kids, but I read it when I was young. You should read it.
posted by ovvl at 5:48 PM on October 9, 2017

Best answer: Previously: London, in Media, for Children.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:26 PM on October 9, 2017

Best answer: "Black Hearts in Battersea" by Joan Aiken, and probably a lot of other Joan Aikens
"Smith, the story of a Pickpocket" by Leon Garfield, and probably a lot of other Leon Garfields
"The Armourer's House" by Rosemary Sutcliff
"The Load of Unicorn" by Cynthia Harnett
and seconding "Cue for Treason"
posted by runincircles at 6:44 PM on October 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My 13-year old recommends The London Eye Mystery , which she read as a 10-year old, so might work for either/both your kids depending on reading level and interest. It's set in present day London, with tween protagonists.

Something for your younger child that my kid enjoyed at that age was Katie In London . It's definitely a more "little kid" book, though.

For actual historical fiction written for kids, the best author IMO (and my kid's) is Jacqueline Wilson. Hetty Feather is specifically set in London in the late 1870s. All of the author's other books are great, but my kid couldn't remember any that would specifically give a sense of place about London (as opposed to England more broadly).

I feel like I should have more to recommend, London-phile that I am...I'll ponder and check back in...
posted by msbubbaclees at 6:48 PM on October 9, 2017

Best answer: For yourself, try
"The Giant, O'Brien" by the incomparable Hilary Mantel
"Ingenious Pain" by Andrew Miller - very efficiently evocative

Aaaand, if you have a moment to talk about my personal lord and saviour Patrick O'Brian, his 9th in the Aubrey/Maturin series, "Treason's Harbour" is based on Malta (and as I've personally found out, a lot of the exact locations in Valetta are findable and unchanged), and out of the rest of the series, "The Reverse of the Medal" is mostly set in London.
posted by runincircles at 7:25 PM on October 9, 2017

Best answer: For you, consider these that I've read and enjoyed:

Modern times
  • Brick Lane, which specifically addresses the Bangladeshi immigrant experience in London

  • the Elizabeth George Lynley mysteries, which are set all over England, but the protagonists live in London, and the stories often feature London scenes

    In a historical setting, but still more fiction than history:
  • Anne Perry's Charlotte Pitt and William Monk novels, which are set in Victorian London

  • Laurie King's Mary Russell novels (not all in London, but each has a London connection), set in the 1920s-30s and are a take-off on Sherlock Holmes

  • posted by msbubbaclees at 7:45 PM on October 9, 2017

    Response by poster: THANK YOU! Keep em coming. Monotreme, Dickens was my very first thought but I know my little philistines and there's no way in the world they'd put up with it... we are going to watch Oliver! though!
    posted by fingersandtoes at 9:22 PM on October 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

    Best answer: My daughter loves The Diamond of Drury Lane by Julia Golding.

    Also seconding Jacqueline Wilson. Other good titles would be Sapphire Battersea, Emerald Star, Diamond, Little Stars (all featuring the same period, characters & setting as Hetty Feather), and Queenie (1950s setting).
    posted by rd45 at 12:06 AM on October 10, 2017

    Best answer: Rumer Godden wrote some lovely novels (sigh) and An Episode of Sparrows deals with children in post-war London.
    posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:29 AM on October 10, 2017

    Best answer: Patricia C. Wrede all day for Regency-period magical London hijinks. The Cecelia and Kate series is epistolary fluffy fun; Magic and Malice is a little bit more rough-and-tumble and also a fun series. I liked both, as a kid, though I preferred the latter because it has a higher badassery quotient.
    posted by halation at 10:20 AM on October 10, 2017

    Best answer: Oh Lord also, for yourself, Georgette Heyer! Sure most of her heroines are in London at least at some point? These are gorgeously written, well researched, and FUN
    posted by runincircles at 10:43 PM on October 10, 2017

    Best answer: I thought of another you might like: Maisie Dobbs, by Jacqueline Winspear. Mystery novel set in the late 1920's (after WWI) in London. There's a whole series of them, and they give an interesting picture of life in London at that time.

    And, an excellent kids' book is The War that Saved my Life, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. This is set during WWII, and deals with the phenomenon of kids being sent out of London to live in the country with strangers in order to be safe from the bombings in London during the war. So, it gives a sense of that period in history, however most of the story doesn't take place in London per se.
    posted by msbubbaclees at 1:47 PM on October 24, 2017

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