The Boy in the Smoke – Maureen Johnson


A short story from the Shades of London series. I chose this book our to read from the library, online library, as I know that a lot of students were reading this as they worked through the books from past and present World Book Days.  It is one of the few WBD Books that I have ever read and I am not regretting it. It is a book that has made me want to go away and read some more of the series to see if it matches the level of quality of the short story in writing and story line, sadly I have not done so.

(Spoiler Alert) The premise for the storyline was of a boy trying to kill himself and being saved by a ghost who had succeeded in the same thing in the same boathouse. Yet another child pushed too hard by their parents for grades that they surrender their happiness and, potentially, their life. Working in a school, I see (too often) kids with scars to match my own because they feel the pressure from teachers and parents too much so this book touched on some sensitive but important issues.


As with all World Book Day Books, the book is quite a short one and I managed to get through five books, of a similar length, that evening. This means that you are able to get through it in a short space, either to see if the series would be for you, or to do as a class read, helping your students to realise that they don’t need to let their parents get to them when it comes to grades. There will always be another path for your life, it doesn’t have to be straight A’s.


Not a lot more to say about this book, it simply means that I need to read the whole series before I am able to provide you with any more information. What a shame…

4 out of 5 stars

Accelerated Reader Information



Interest Level:MY

Quiz Number:225933

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