The Ravenmaster's Secret: Escape from the Tower of London

Overview


Best-selling author Elvira Woodruff's thrilling novel set in 1700s London. Now in paperback!

It's 1735. Forrest Harper's life inside the Tower of London consists of three ways to pass the time: chores, chores, and more chores. His only friends are the spirited ravens he tends with his father. So when vicious Scottish Rebels are captured, Forrest can't wait to prove himself by standing guard. If only Forrest's prisoner hadn't turned out to be ...

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Overview


Best-selling author Elvira Woodruff's thrilling novel set in 1700s London. Now in paperback!

It's 1735. Forrest Harper's life inside the Tower of London consists of three ways to pass the time: chores, chores, and more chores. His only friends are the spirited ravens he tends with his father. So when vicious Scottish Rebels are captured, Forrest can't wait to prove himself by standing guard. If only Forrest's prisoner hadn't turned out to be the noble and daring Maddy. And if only Maddy wasn't about to be executed. . . .
Now, as Forrest chooses between friendship and family, safety and escape, he and Maddy must flee, somehow navigating the cold, dank corridors of the Tower.

The eleven-year-old son of the Ravenmaster at the Tower of London befriends a Jacobite rebel being held prisoner there.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Opening in 1735, Woodruff's (Dear Levi) historical novel has much to say about the nature of war, judgment and prejudice. Eleven-year-old Forrest lives with his family in the Tower of London, where his father serves as Ravenmaster, tending to the royal birds and keeping watch over whatever prisoners come his way. When one of a trio of captured Scottish rebels is placed in their care, Forrest, who has been raised to believe the Scots are devils, is hostile at first ("She's not like you and me," Forrest says to his best friend, Rat, about an imprisoned Scottish countess, "for she is not English. She's a Scot"). But the new prisoner is a girl, Maddy, the daughter of a rebel leader, and in the course of bringing Maddy her meals, he begins to see that she is in fact very much like him. Forrest begins to question everything he believes and, with the help of Rat (who seems headed for a dismal fate as a chimneysweep's "climber"), Forrest helps stage a risky escape for both Rat and Maddy. The resulting chase offers a spirited wrap-up, yet what readers may find even more engrossing is Forrest and Maddy's growing sense of empathy and understanding as they realize the shaky ground on which their prejudices are built. The period touches will fascinate readers, too-from the stench of the moat to Forrest's mother's thrill at a public hanging. A colorful tale. Ages 8-12. (Nov.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Eleven-year-old Forest Harper leads a life unlike most other boys growing up in 17th century England. As the son of the prestigious royal Ravenmaster, who is responsible both for guarding the prisoners of the infamous Tower of London and for caring for the nine legendary ravens that reside within the Tower's wall, Forest has grown up under the shadow of "The Bloody Tower" all of his life. As an inhabitant of the Tower, Forest has difficulty igniting common boyhood friendships, and his only friends are a rat catcher named Ned, whose work supplying food for the ravens often brings him by the Tower, and his favorite raven, Tuck, who stays constantly by his side. All of his life, Forest has dreamt of one day escaping the stifling walls of the Tower and "proving his courage" to the world in wild and fantastic adventures and battles, which he envisions in his imagination through the use of an old, clouded spyglass. When a young and beautiful Jacobite prisoner implores Forrest for his help before she is sent to the gallows, he finally gets his chance. Woodruff prefaces her novel with a historical background to facilitate comprehension for her younger readers, and also adjoins a glossary of 17th century terms for further understanding. A riveting, emotional plot, set within a surprisingly historically accurate context makes for an appealing and intellectual read. 2003, Scholastic, Ages 12 up.
—Ronnie Ficco
VOYA
In 1735, eleven-year-old Forrest Harper, the Ravenmaster's son, lives at the Tower of London with his family. He helps his father care for the ravens and prisoners who live there. When he hears that a Jacobite rebel from Scotland is to arrive, Forrest is thrilled, certain that the local bullies will be impressed when he tends to a vicious prisoner. His hopes are dashed when the Jacobite turns out to be Maddy, a pretty Scottish girl of noble birth. His disgust fades as Maddy's courage and stories of her homeland belie the common concept that all Scots are uncouth monsters. Maddy becomes his friend, but she is a traitor to the crown and is sentenced to beheading. Set in the dramatic time of Bonny Prince Charlie, this story brings fire and life to history. Period details are interwoven so deftly that the reader is immersed in the era. Readers visit collar day, when crowds eagerly gather for a hanging. They feel Forrest's shame when he vomits at the spectacle, prompting the bullies to deem him a sissy. They smell the stench of raw waste in the Thames and the unwashed state common to most of the populace. This compelling story portrays a boy who must do what he feels is right, as he faces moral dilemmas that would confound most adults. Woodruff creates realistic characters with whom modern audiences will empathize and sets them in a fascinating period that is certain to enthrall readers. VOYA Codes: 4Q 4P M (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2003, Scholastic, 225p., Ages 11 to 14.
—Heather Pittman
From The Critics
"Chores, chores and more chores," Forrest complained (p.1), a very typical phrase we hear from young and not-so-young people. The Ravenmaster's Secret is one truly interesting story that will keep your eyes glued on each page to find out what happens to 11-year old Forrest Harper. He is the son to one of the Tower's guards (Yeoman Warders), who lives in a small cottage tucked in the outer walls of the Tower of London. In the beginning of the story, Forrest complains about nearly everything. He wants to go outside the Tower to prove his courage—where no bullies will make fun of him and he can explore different worlds. His daily chores include taking care of ravens kept in the Tower to prevent them from leaving; it is believed that when the ravens leave the Tower, the Tower will fall into the enemy's hands. The position requires a responsible, patient, steadfastness, and keen-eyed person who can gain their trust and understand their ways. Forrest seems to be the perfect candidate for the job. But the curiosity for exploring the world with his best friend, Rat, just seems to be getting further and further away. His great adventures in London's most feared prison do not satisfy his hunger for adventure until he meets Maddy, a Scottish 11-year-old rebel imprisoned in the tower. After learning about the unfairness of his king, Forrest is confused about his destiny. Should he commit treason by helping Maddy escape? Or should he obey the law and allow his innocent friend to be executed? 2003, Scholastic Press, 240 pp., Ages young adult. Reviewer: Patricia Villanueva
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Eleven-year-old Forrest is the son of the Ravenmaster in the Tower of London. Historically, this position, which fell to one of the Tower guards, was to care for the ravens that live within the walls of the fortress as a token of luck to keep it from falling to its enemies. Forrest has grown up in the Tower and has his own pet raven, Tuck. He feels confined and sheltered from the outside world. Bullies make fun of him. When dangerous Scottish rebels are captured and imprisoned, he hopes to show his bravery. His responsibility, however, turns out to be to take food to the young daughter of one of the rebels. As he learns more about Maddy, he comes to admire and respect her, and realizes that if he does not help her escape, she will be executed. To do so, though, he will have to go against all he has been taught. The story has its share of suspense, excitement, and interesting characters. Set in 1735, it does not flinch from describing the brutality of the time, including public hangings, which Forrest's mother loves to attend. While some of the plot elements may seem unrealistic and the ending too pat, the story is certainly satisfying. Its message of judging people on their own merits and not on the basis of stereotypes comes across strongly. An author's note, a history of the Tower of London, and a glossary of unfamiliar English and Scottish words are appended.-Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A young boy aids a prison escape in this adventurous historical fiction. Forrest lives at the Tower of London, which in 1735 has a jail and execution grounds. He helps his Ravenmaster father bring food to their prisoner and tend the Tower birds. When their newest prisoner turns out to be the faithful daughter of a Scottish Jacobite rebel, Forrest begins to question the terrible things he's always heard about Scots. He befriends Maddy, and when her father and uncle are murdered trying to escape, he swears to help her-despite an inevitable treason conviction if he's caught. Pet raven Tuck and loyal chimney-sweep Ned figure into Maddy's escape, and the neat ending is not unwelcome after unpleasant details of indentured children, adult corruption, and merciless law. Occasional cheapness ("'there would surely be no war'" if children never grew up) is outweighed by courage, friendship, and the earnest, fast-moving story. (map, author's note, history of the Tower, glossary, bibliography) (Historical fiction. 9-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780439281348
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/1/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 150,206
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.58 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author


The bestselling author of GEORGE WASHINGTON'S SOCKS and THE RAVENMASTER'S SECRET, Woodruff has written more than twenty books for children, including picture books, historical fiction, and lighthearted fantasy. Her numerous school visits each year are popular with kids and teachers. The sequel to GEORGE WASHINGTON'S SOCKS, GEORGE WASHINGTON'S SPY, will be published in November 2010. She lives with her family in Martin's Creek, Pennsylvania.
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Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2007

    Kid's Review

    I would like to recommend the book The Ravenmaster¿s Secret by Elvira Woodruff. Its genre is historical fiction. It takes place in the Tower of London, in England. The year is 1735, in the month of March. This story is about Rat, the rat catcher¿s orphaned apprentice who is not well off Maddy, the daughter of a Scottish rebel who is captured along with Maddy and finally Forrest, who is the Ravenmaster¿s son and a friend of Rat and eventually Maddy. This book is about Forrest and Rat befriending Maddy and helping her out of an execution. One of my favorite parts is when Forrest comes home and his two little sisters, Mary and baby Bea are there (his mother is on an errand and his father isn¿t home yet). Forrest has charcoal on his hands from the fire, and he draws a beard and a mustache on Bea¿s face. Bea burps and blinks, and Forrest and Mary fall back laughing. His father comes home before Forrest has a chance to wipe the beard and mustache off, and the Ravenmaster wants to say hello to Bea, so Mary saves Forrest from getting caught by taking her father¿s bonnet and putting it away. Just as Forrest is getting the cloth to Bea¿s face, his mother walks in. ¿Bless my soul, has she spit up on herself again?¿ she asks Forrest. ¿I¿ve never known a child so hard to keep clean.¿ ¿She was a bit of a mess, but I cleaned her up,¿ says Forrest. Behind his mother¿s back Forrest sees Mary stifle a giggle. He smiles back. This scene reminds me of playing games with my brother and sister, when we were having a good time and no one was fighting. It is also humorous. The author made me feel like I was right there in the story, like a silent ghost that followed Forrest around. Whenever I read this it was like I escaped to 18th century England. I loved this book and I feel that there is nothing that can be improved. This book is perfect for readers in grades 4-6. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes realistic or historical fiction, although this is historical fiction.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2007

    Ravenmasters Secret

    I would recommend the book called Raven Masters Secret by Elvira Woodruff. The genre is historical fiction. The setting takes place in the Tower of London in 1735. The main characters are Forrest Harper, and a girl named Maddy. A boy Forrest Harper is stuck doing chores all day with his pet raven, Tuck. When a new prisoner named Maddy is being brought to the Bloody Tower, Forrest is responsible for bringing her breakfast. Every morning he goes up to bring her breakfast and they become close friends. Forrest doesn¿t think of her as a Scottish prisoner he thinks that there is no difference between them. When the town thinks she should be hung, they both try to plan an escape with the help of 2 other people. One of my favorite scenes was all of the scenes that Forrest had helped Maddy and he was helping for her from the heart because he was risking his life if someone found out. One of my favorite was that Maddy asked him to give her special twig to her father in another tower. So Forrest went to that tower and had to distract the guards to give the prisoner his daughter¿s special twig. How Forrest distracted the two guards was that he had Tuck (his Raven). I chose this part because it is the only part of the dad, and I remember that part the most. I would recommend this book to people who like historical fiction. I especially liked how Tuck (Forrest¿s raven) finally did a trick to help save Maddy¿s life. It is an easy read with 214 pages. This is my reading level and definitely one of my favorite books for historical fiction. It¿s an easy read that will take you into the book like you¿re in it. From reading this book it makes you feel good inside that you don¿t have this kind of situation, but makes you feel bad inside that people were being treated like that and all the badness in the world. I like how Maddy describes her home and her family and that she is innocent. Maddy told him that there is no difference between them and just because they caught her doesn¿t mean that she¿s a prisoner because there is no difference. This was a really good book, and I would recommend this book to whoever likes historical fiction. I would give a rating of 4.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2007

    A reviewer

    The title of my book is The Raven Masters Secret, by Elvira Woodruff. The setting is in the Bloody Tower, of London. The Raven Masters Secret is realistic fiction, and is around 150-250 pages long, it is a very good book. The book begins when the Bloody Tower is told that a new prisoner is coming, the new prisoners name is Maddy. Prisoners weren¿t usually girls, so they were surprised. Forrest Harper is the son of the Raven Master, he has to take care of the ravens as well as the prisoners, and he is bullied by most of the other kids. Bullies were picking on him every time they saw him, going to the tower, at festivals, even waiting outside to pick on him. His friend¿s name is Rat and they go to the tower and have to feed the prisoner every morning. Forrest¿s parents do not like Forrest being friends with Rat. My favorite part was when Forrest ignored the bullies and they got out of his way, because he stood up to the people who were making his life hard. That is my favorite part because he found out that if he ignored them, they would just leave him alone, so when he tried to ignore them, they just left. I would recommend this book because it can teach you a lot of useful things for life. If I were to give this book a star rating, I would give it 4 ½ stars with 5 stars as the best.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2007

    The Ravenmaster's Secret

    Book Review Meghan Powers LA 5 The Ravenmaster¿s Secret is an exciting story by Elvira Woodruff. The genre is historical fiction. This story takes place in London, 1735. It is a quick book for fast readers with 214 pages. The Ravenmaster¿s Secret is about a boy named Forrest. He is the apprentice Ravenmaster in the tower of London. He also takes care of the prisoners in the tower. One day he finds out that he is getting a Scottish prisoner. He is so surprised when he finds out it¿s a girl! Her name is Maddy and he has to help her escape¿ The main characters are Forrest, Rat, and Maddy. Forrest is an apprentice Ravenmaster with big plans. Rat is a young orphan boy who is apprenticed to a rat catcher. Rat and Forrest are best friends. Maddy is a Scottish prisoner in the tower of London. She has beautiful golden hair and a lovely voice. My favorite part of this book was the scene where Rat and Forrest were looking through a cloudy spyglass and imagining the giant ocean they could see through it. `Forrest put the spyglass to his eye and imagined aloud the ocean he saw through it. Rat asked to have a look. When he looked through it he said, ¿It¿s just as big as you said.¿ From that day on Forrest and Rat knew they were destined to be friends.¿ I liked this scene because it showed how big their imaginations were. It tells you that even though they are drastically different, they are still the same on the inside. I would recommend The Ravenmaster¿s Secret to anyone who likes fiction, history, or both. I would recommend this book to those people because it has a lot of the true stuff about the tower of London with some fictional twists.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2007

    One of my all-time favorites

    I strongly recommend this book for everyone. It was suspenseful, thrilling, entertaining, and had a great twist at the end. This is probably one of the best books I ever read and it has inspired me to read more bookswritten by this author and others.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2006

    Best Book in the Entire Universe

    I read this book a while back, but the joy it gave me still remains. Every sentence was intriguing and I never wanted to put the book down. Though I did shed tears near the end, they were not unhappy tears! Many books I will read over my lifetime, I am sure, but the words of this inspiring story will remain deep within my heart forever.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2005

    Ravenmaster's Secret: Escape From The Tower Of London

    This book is perfect for castle-lovers, history buffs an everyone who likes a good book. I must admit, the beginning is a little slow, but it starts to pick right up. The ending is good for those who pride in their imaginations.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2005

    Ravenmaster's Secret: Escape From The Tower Of London

    This book is so good that I have read it twice and plan to again. It may just be me, loving castles and all, but I do believe that this is a good book for anyone. It is quite inspiring. Although you could say that the end is rather abrupt, it leaves a lot of room for imagination.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2004

    Good story

    I really liked this book. It was very interesting. It introduced me to the Tower of London and what went on there. The story was very suspenceful, especially at the end! Yes, the begining is a little slow but each page it gets better and better!The only thing I didn't like about this book was that the end leaves you hanging, but thats no reason to not to read it. Every thing else about the book is great!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2004

    Secret of the Ravenmaster

    Forrest Harper has alot to learn about courage when it comes to bullys, but once he meets his new friends Rat (a rat catcher)and Maddy (a Scottish Rebels daughter)thats all about to change.Because they are know counting on him for their life! ' Dree Yier Ain Wierd,' Forrest. (Face your destiny)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2004

    Great Book

    This Book is Awesome. The author describes it very good. The characters seem like you know them.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2003

    Better than Harry Potter!

    This book deserves awards! Elvira Woodruff is an exceptional author and has written a fantastic suspenseful story for all ages!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2003

    Best castle book I've read yet!

    I loved this book because it had such great characters, lovable underdogs, nasty villans and great heros. The story was strong and full of twists and turns-you never knew what was going to happen next. And because it was set back in the 1700's in an old English castle, you got to learn a lot about what life was like living next to a moat, and having to take care of ravens~! Wouldn't want to live there but glad I got to visit!. If you're into castles, history, and finding out what having real courage means, check this one out!

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