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Georgina Friday, known to everyone as Gina, grew up in an orphanage and when she was sixteen went to be a servant is a big house in central London. There were seven members of the family and twelve servants - and Gina was the one at the bottom who had to run about after everyone and who was the butt of practical jokes. She could cope with that, but what she couldn't cope with was the attentions of one of the young men of the family. She'd already heard the stories of what had happened to another young maid who'd caught his eye - thrown out on the streets to fend for herself and her baby - and could see no way of escape from him other than to run away.

A Dark Trade by Mary Hooper

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Category: Dyslexia Friendly
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Evocative historical fiction for teens and dyslexia friendly too, with a reading age of just eight.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 90 Date: January 2016
Publisher: Barrington Stoke
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1781125168

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But what to do to earn her keep? In a moment of inspiration she decided to become a boy - there were more jobs for a 'smart young lad' than for girls and there wasn't the danger of catching a man's eye. So, Gina became George and went to work in a second-hand clothes shop. There was a degree of safety and a place to sleep under the counter, but George wasn't free from danger yet: the knowledge of where the clothes had come from was sickening and escaped servants were mercilessly hunted down. George found a friend though - in a young blind beggar girl. Could they help each other?

There's a real feel for Victorian London in the story - the beginning of the building of the underground shows the way that life was going to develop, but there were still the workhouses to be avoided, the vicious laws for theft to contend with and the body snatchers. Mary Hooper does a splendid job of bringing the city to life and setting her heroine within it in remarkably few words. It's a good story which will appeal to the teenager with an interest in history.

You get a bonus with this book as it's dyslexia friendly. So, what makes the book dyslexia friendly? Well, firstly Barrington Stoke have designed a special font where each character is distinct and pulls the reader on to read the next word. It's printed on an off-white paper, which reduces the glare which can distract some readers and the paper is substantial enough to ensure that there's no bleed through from the reverse of the page. The spacing between words and lines has been carefully judged to give the best reading experience and the text has not been justified as this can mean that readers get lost on the page. The book has clearly defined chapters to give natural rest breaks and it's not just the reader who benefits from that - many parents and carers feel the same way. It's not just people with dyslexia who benefit from these ingenious changes - most young readers will find the books easier to read and more enjoyable. I'm just about into my dotage and recently I've been suffering from eye problems - and Barrington Stoke books are the ones which I can read most easily. For the person who has struggled with reading, perhaps because of dyslexia, the book has been written to appeal in terms of content to teenagers, but the reading age is eight.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy of the book to the Bookbag.

A Dark Trade is likely to appeal to girls. Teens wanting books with a similar reading age will appreciate Old Dog, New Tricks by Bali Rai, Persist by Melvin Burgess and Shadow Girl by Sally Nicholls.

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Buy A Dark Trade by Mary Hooper at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Dark Trade by Mary Hooper at


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