Fire, Bed and Bone
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Henrietta Branford unforgettably captured Viking history in The Fated Sky, which was shortlisted for the Guardian Children's Fiction Award. Fire, Bed and Bone gives an equally vivid insight into life during the Peasants Revolt of 1381, ambitiously recording events through the eyes of a family dog. This device neatly sidesteps the trap of sentimentality since events are observed from within the narrow sphere of the dog's needs and preoccupations. The clarity of the narrative is generated by this dispassionate perspective as the cruelties perpetrated during the Revolt are catalogued through the ingenuous bewilderment of the dog who sees her family suffering without understanding the reasons. The narrative's reliance on senses less well developed in humans enables Brandford to build tension as the King's men close in stealthily on the community. This is a fine book for Years 7 and 8: useful, entertaining; intelligent --- and at a price which compares favourably with paperback originals.