The Children of the New Forest by Frederick Marryat
Recommended for: Ages 10 and up (interest level)
In The Children of the New Forest, Marryat describes the trials and triumphs of the four Beverley children, orphaned during the English Civil War and forced to take refuge with a poor woodsman in the New Forest. This is the first annotated edition of a great children's classic, which has retained its popularity since 1847.
This book probably sounds boring, but it was very interesting. Although it is very different, the premise about learning to survive on their own reminded me of Robinson Crusoe learning to use the resources available to him.
The book starts out explaining the history of the time, which I didn't find very interesting, but it quickly went to the start of the story. It was good about putting the history of what was going on during the story in a natural and more interesting way than some books. Other than at the beginning, there were no long rambly passages about it. The author made things that could have been easily been really boring into an interesting story.
The story is set in England at the time when Cromwell was able to take over England. There was nothing in the setting that seemed out of place and that it shouldn't belong. They mostly spend time in the forest. I don't remember all of the events from this period but I have read about some of them in a different fiction book, so it was interesting reading about these events from a different perspective.
The king is on the run from his enemies and soldiers are looking for him. The Beverleys are on the king's side and are forced to take refuge in the forest, where they are taught how to take care of themselves. Edward wants to fight for the king and it is a goal he seeks to meet. They also run into trouble throughout the story, which does not get intense but is still interesting.
There are four Beverley children but it only focuses on two of them. I think that Alice and Edith should've been developed more than they were. Edward was the most developed of them all and became the main character (the book starts out with a different main character who is pretty well developed). While the characters had different characteristics, I think that they could've been better developed. For an older book, they were well developed.
It is a good book with a satisfying ending that I would recommend, especially if you like English history.