Top positive review
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Superb classic - though no longer suitable for young children
on 21 May 2012
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.