Nathan Fox: Dangerous Times by L Brittney

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Nathan Fox: Dangerous Times by L Brittney

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: A highly enjoyable retelling of Shakespeare's Othello, as seen by the eyes of a thirteen year old boy spy recruited by Sir Francis Walsingham. It's engaging, interesting and exciting, but it's also beautifully grounded. An ideal choice for late primary, early secondary children, especially for Year 5s when they're "doing" the Tudors. Recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: January 2007
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
ISBN: 978-0330441162

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Nathan Fox is a thirteen-year-old actor in the same company as William Shakespeare. Nathan is a skilled acrobat and can speak several languages. He is a self-confident boy - he and his sister have fended for themselves since they were tiny. Nathan's talents have not gone unnoticed. He has caught the eye of Sir Francis Walsingham, Elizabeth I's renowned Spymaster General. Against his sister's wishes, Nathan eagerly accepts Walsingham's offer of employment. He's hungry for adventure and he wants to defend his country against the feared Spanish invasion.

Partnered with his hero and fearless spy John Pearce, Nathan must be trained in the defensive arts by England's very best. And then he must set sail to Venice on his first mission, where he will meet the legendary Moorish general, Othello...

What follows is rather spiffing retelling of Shakespeare's play, as seen by the eyes of an eager young boy. What a brilliant idea! There are some angles you just wish you'd thought of yourself, and this is one of them. Nathan Fox buys right into the current fad for junior espionage and tells its tale with gusto. And it's awesomely researched. Every aspect of Elizabethan life that's of interest to young children is brought into play - Nathan likes the diabolo as much as today's children do, and he's probably better at it - as well as a succinct but sophisticated condensation of the political milieu.

Othello is all about a flawed hero, but it's also about racism, corruption in the seeking of power and about jealousy, both sexual and platonic. Nathan Fox brings all these strands together without ever forgetting its young audience. There's love but no icky kissing, there is violence, but it always has a consequence. Nathan makes mistakes but always does his best to put them right and when the chips are down, he always, but always, does the best he could possibly do.

The book rattles along at a smart and tidy pace but it isn't an inyerface and relentlessly high-octane read. It's more interesting than that. And Brittney, you can tell, knows children. She doesn't dumb it down, but she doesn't overreach either - everything's perfectly pitched. All three of us chez Murphy enjoyed Nathan Fox a great deal. We recommend it for all young readers aged nine or ten to twelve or thirteen. It'll entertain them, but it'll open their eyes too. Enjoy.

If they enjoyed reading Nathan Fox, they might like to look at his very interesting web site, which has lots of historical background. They might also enjoy reading Linda Buckley-Archer's Gideon the Cutpurse, another great historical adventure, but with a time travel twist.

Booklists.jpg Nathan Fox: Dangerous Times by L Brittney is in the Top Ten Retellings of Myths, Legends and Fairy Tales.

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Buy Nathan Fox: Dangerous Times by L Brittney at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Nathan Fox: Dangerous Times by L Brittney at


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