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Water Babies - Charles Kingsley

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Genre: Junior Books / Author: Charles Kingsley / Edition: New Ed / Paperback / Reading Level: Young Adult / 224 Pages / Book is published 1994-12-29 by Wordsworth Editions Ltd

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    4 Reviews
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      22.03.2010 17:11
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      Book of morals based on an older way of life

      This is a book of morality in essence!

      It deals with the notion of child labour. It is about a boy chimney sweep called Tom. He has a rather distasteful master, Grimes, who washes himself once.

      Tom seeing this also wishes to be clean of the dirt of sweeping chimneys and in pursuing that he is 'taken away by the fairies', a euphemism for dying - he basically drowns.

      He then becomes a water-baby and goes on an adventure of learning various moral lessons, often with his companion Ellie.

      On his journey he encounters Grimes again, which acts as a plot device of reflection.

      It is in itself a charming story for children, and also a warning.

      It was written at a time before political correctness, from a very Anglo-centric, and seemingly protestant viewpoint, though definitely Christian.

      Although there are some valualbe lessons for young people here (and adults), this book just doesn't sit in with today's society - it was written in the 1800s.

      My copy is very old, I don't know if it is still published. If you should pursue this book, try to get an older copy as the chances are it will be more fittingly illustrated. The illustration in many of today's children's books seem to have no thought in them.

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        31.10.2000 05:04

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        This is a beautifully written Victorian tale about a child chimney sweep. Charles Kingsley records for posterity, the terrible lives of these children. Most of us know the story of the Water Babies as a childrens story. It is only in reading it as an adult that I first became aware of what was exposed. This short novel has become a classic not just because of its story line. It is beautifully written and deserves to join the ranks of 'English Classics'.

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        14.08.2000 00:01

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        I have owned Water Babies for the best part of 40 years. I have it in small print and, even in my much younger days, I had no problem reading such books...I have always been an avid reader and owned a shelf of classics by the age of 8. However, I must have attempted more than 20 times to read Kingsley's tome but, somehow, I can't get beyond more than a few chapters. I have seen the part animated film and that was okay but I really find the book hard to read. Perhaps he intended it for children but I do not know of many children who have been able to understand it very well. I think it is only considered a children's book because it is about a young boy but the method of writing the story does not, I imagine, allow many little minds get into what it is all about. This is just my opinion but it has bugged me for years that even now, in my middle age, I have still not read the Water Babies.

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        01.07.2000 18:54
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        I picked up an old copy of Charles Kingsley's classic 'The Water Babies' in a Save the Children Fund shop, quite appropriately. This is one of those books I should have read, I thought, and I opened it at a beautiful description of cool, clear water, so I bought it, for 10p. This is a Victorian book with a moral, but it defies classification. It is deservedly famous, really quite strange and wonderful. It made me think of showers and baths in quite a different way. It may have been about chimney sweeps and child labour over a century ago, but it is speaking out against cruelty for all time, and it is about development of character. We need some modern books like this, perhaps about the way some schools are.

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