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The Water Babies is a wonderful, beautifully descriptive Victorian tale but; it's not Disney and concerns itself with issues that may no longer be seen as suitable for young children today. Tom, the little chimney sweep, is regularly beaten, starved and forced to climb ancient flues where his eyes become full of stinging soot and his feet, knees and hands are rubbed raw. He's brutalised by his owner/employer and his idea of fun is flinging rocks at the legs of working horses and dreaming of the day he has his own group of tiny sweeps to bully and abuse. Tom's a small boy but he's already stealing lead from the church roof, drinking beer and is no stranger to the magistrate. Kingsley writes not with sympathy but with acceptance; this was the life for many poor children during his era and their lives were brutal. There's a strong Christian message throughout the Water Babies and it's packed with "morality and obedience". Rescue only happens for Tom when he runs from his master, becomes seriously ill and wanders alone into the river where he's taken by the spirits and becomes a Water Baby. If you haven't read Victorian literature before then you might find the langauge and pace difficult but try to stick with it. Water Babies is a classic, some of Kingsley's descriptive prose is just gorgeous and it's possibly one of my favourite stories of all time.
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VINE VOICEon 9 September 2012
I read this as a child and enjoyed it then but now I am older, I read it again with a critical eye. It is certainly a story about morals (Victorian ones) but also a genuinely pleasant book to read just for the sake of it.

The story centres around a little chimney sweep called Tom who is employed by the odious Mr. Grimes. When Tom falls down a chimney in a big house and lands up in a little girls room, he is so terrified that he will be caught and sent to prison as a thief, that he scrambles back up the chimney, over the roof tops and then disappears although a search is mounted for him by the owner of the big house. Tom has in fact fallen into some water and is no longer human.........he has become a water-baby and is cared for by Mrs. Bedoasyouwouldbedoneby and Mrs.Doasyouwouldbedoneby. Each in their turn, teach Tom valuable life lessons.

A highly recommended read for children or even for children of middle age!
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on 14 July 2017
I cannot believe I read this as a child. It is not in the least bit childish and not really a children's story. It is full of good humour and wit. Yet I have the memories of Mrs Beasyouwouldbedoneby and Mr Grimes; and what it was like to be a Victorian chimney sweep. Difficult to imagine life with the constant expectations of hardship and beatings.
Very well worth reading even in these modern times.
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on 23 April 2013
Iwas a little disapointed in this book, but probably my own fault, I was expecting it to be a larger book with some illustrations, but it is just a normal paper back. I should have looked more carefully at the blurb.
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on 6 January 2014
'Bought' (for free) as a classic to re-read when I have time. This is a childhood favourite with some good moral overtones. 'Do as you would be done by' / 'Be done by as you did' are concepts I've carried from my childhood reading. Have to confess I haven't got round to re-reading (there' too many other books to read) but will do one day. Retirement isn't too far away.
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on 27 December 2014
This was a really good book, it is a bit old fashioned now and the diatribes of lectures on how children should behave got a bit tedious but they were common place when the book was written. I would love to see a modern re-write but the original remains charming and inventive.
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on 3 May 2014
I must have read this book at least ten times over the years. It was read to me as a very young child and when I was able to read it for myself I did so throughout my life, most recently last year. I purchased this book for my Grand daughter aged 11years and whom happily is an avid reader. The book arrived well packaged and on time. I will happily recommend classic books such as the water babies to all my friends and family members for their youngsters/teens. Thank you
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on 11 February 2013
This was read to me when I was 5 and had left a deep impression. I decided to read it to a very elderly lady I care for. We are both enjoying it so much because we had forgotten most of it. It's very much of it's time but that also makes it interesting.
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on 9 October 2015
As an Irish person, I particularly enjoyed the anti-Irish rant. it was an interesting historical insight which has been edited out of many new editions. It makes it clearer why Ireland is now a republic.
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on 29 March 2015
I remember this from a child the book I had was edited the one I chose was not loved the story and the magic of it all great fun.It does go on a bit about morals and good behaviour in general but it was a lovely read.
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