Gentle Emmaline loves nothing more than books and flowers and her little brother Tommy. Sadly, her idyllic country life in Victorian England comes to an abrupt end when her father dies of cholera. The family is forced to move to a mill town, where Emmaline's mother is dreadfully injured in a factory accident. To ease her pain she takes laudanum and is soon addicted, craving the drug so badly that she sells Tommy into servitude as a chimney sweep in London. Emmaline knows that a sweep's life is short and awful. Small boys as young as five are forced to climb naked into dark chimneys, their bare feet prodded by nail-studded sticks to keep them working. If Tommy is to survive, it is up to Emmaline to find him.
"Holeman vividly portrays the many contrasts of daily life in Victorian England, from the upper classes to child laborers, and creates an engaging, well-developed protagonist who exemplifies the power of determination and love--whether she's coping with the harsh complexities of living with an addicted parent or bravely trying to rescue her brother. Diverse supporting characters, drama, suspense, and a hint of romance round things out. A compelling story of hard times, worse times, and hope for better times to come." -- Booklist