The Pringles- a Victorian theatre family- have fallen on hard times and decide the only way forward is to venture North in search of pastures new. So, the newly named Steam Whistle Theatre Company ( minus Ma and the littlest ones) board a train for the first time and head for Uncaster. However, they find they are not the only entertainers in town. Baby Bubbles - child magician and escapologist- is also performing. Could this scupper their triumphant come-back?
Recently widowed Mrs Poskett, owner of Uncaster Hall, finds herself with the bailiffs at the door and deserted by all except Edie, a young workhouse girl, who suggests she takes in lodgers. Luckily for all concerned, the Pringles take the rooms, but if the odious Olio Sleevery has his way, no one will be staying at Uncaster Hall for long.
A Dickensian delight for upper KS2 readers, ‘The Steam Whistle Theatre Company’ is a wonderful read. Full of heart and humour, the story is bursting with brilliant characters worthy of the great man (Dickens!) himself. Mr Pringle and his troupe are reminiscent of Mr Vincent Crummles; the fabulously named Olio Sleevery is a villain worthy of Uriah Heep or Daniel Quilp and Edie Boiler a heroine to claim even the hardest of hearts!
But, having captured that essence, this is an original and engaging story which romps along at a wonderful pace. Hard work, determination and loyalty win through in the end, showing friendship can be found in the darkest times and the spoilt, precocious and greedy get their comeuppance.
This would make a joyful read aloud for anyone with a penchant for ‘doing the voices’ and a class who enjoy a rattling good read. Bravo (or brava!), Ms French!
The Steam Whistle Theatre Company Vivian French
Walker Books ISBN: 978-1406376319