Books, Products

Review and Giveaway- Ned: Barnardo Boy

Ned: Barnardo Boy

The Book – Ned: Barnardo Boy

Rarely do I read aloud a book to my children that touches me as much as it does them.

Ned: Barnardo BoyWhen I do, the experience is unforgettable. Ned: Barnardo Boy is a book unlike any we have read.

Ned is the story of a fictional orphan making his own way in the slums of London during the late 1870s. A “nobody’s child,” he carries heavy packages to earn money for food and sleeps on the streets.  Later, he is taken in at an orphanage, and finally he is sent to Canada as an emigrant farm hand. His experiences paint a vivid picture of London’s poor at that time, as well as the mission work to the orphan children.

Barbara Coyle does a masterful job communicating the atmosphere and culture in this historical novel.  The depravity, destitution, and loss of London’s orphans are clearly understood without undue contemplation of the seedy side of slum life.  Barbara touches our hearts with the pain and suffering so many endured during this troubling time in history, educating our children without sharing explicit details.  Most importantly, she teaches important spiritual lessons – including salvation, love, forgiveness, diligence, and witnessing – skillfully and sweetly, as the story demonstrates God’s providential care for one of His own.

The result is a book with strong spiritual application that found me and my children convicted and challenged every chapter.  Such endurance in trials, such satisfaction with little, and such hope in heartache left us looking at our own blessed lives with renewed gratefulness, contentment, and rejoicing. Ned: Barnardo Boy has left a lasting impression on our hearts.

Barbara Coyle has written a month-long 143-page unit study to accompany Ned: Barnardo Boy, available from CurrClick. The unit study includes poetry, hymns, crafts, history, maps, photos, and background information to supplement each chapter of Ned. The lengthy appendices include historical documents and literature excerpts to further enhance the study.  Coordinating notebooking pages are included.

After reading Ned: Barnardo Boy, it did not surprise me to learn that all proceeds from this book are going to fund the Coyle’s adoption of a special needs child from Ethiopia.  This is a book that should become a homeschool classic.

The Author – Barbara Coyle

Barbara Coyle is a homeschooling mother of four and missionary to Ireland. A former university teacher in literature, writing, and research, she founded Historical Fiction Unit Studies in 2006 to provide studies on old books and historical fiction.

The Special Offer – Unit Study

For you readers, Barbara Coyle is offering the Ned: Barnardo Boy unit study for half price through the month of March! For only $5, you can conveniently download this month-long unit study from CurrClick at this exclusive link.

The Giveaway – Saturday, February 12

Barbara Coyle is giving one copy of Ned: Barnardo Boy to a WhateverState reader! To enter, leave up to three comments each day below:

1) Tell me that you tweeted a link to this page.

2) Tell me that you posted on your facebook wall.

3) Tell us your favorite historical fiction book below.

One winner will be announced here this Saturday.

The Winner – Jen Harris!

Congratulations, Jen! And for all readers, be sure to check out the exclusive unit study offer just for us, half off with this link!  You can get your own copy of Ned: Barnardo Boy from Amazon, CurrClick, or the author’s website.


    • Great question, JoJo. I’m so embarrassed that I neglected to mention this book is appropriate for readers of all ages.

      The reader should be capable of reading typical juvenile fiction chapter books; I would estimate school grade 3rd and above. As a read aloud, the entire family will enjoy this.

      The unit study is graded by the author for ages 5-18.


  1. Sarah says

    I love historical fiction in general. I just read a trilogy about the Gould family in Georgia. Three novels based on reality. I cannot remember the name of the first, but the second was New Moon Rising, and the third was Lighthouse. The author is Eugenia Price. The trilogy covers a family from just past the Revolutionary War through post Civil war recovery. It is set on St. Simon’s island in Georgia. (Which my sister-in-law tells me is a known vacation spot now?) Anyway, I was intrigued by the characters and then to find out they are real! I am interested to find out more about them.


  2. I try to interject as much living history as I can into my son’s daily reading. I love books by Jean Fritz. We have The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis on our reading list. Lots of books about the wars too. Charley Skedaddle, Shades of Grey, The Fighting Ground. You can tell I have a boy. lol


    • Jeanette – We are HUGE Jean Fritz fans, too. Have you read her autobiographical “Homesick”? My children were fascinated by it, because they could see showed how her circumstances shaped her writing style.


  3. Jennifer in PA says

    One of my favorite historical fiction books is The Hittite Warrior by Joanne Williamson. It is published by Bethlehem books which has a great selection of wonderful historical fiction.


  4. I have a copy of Ned on my bookshelf. We love Ned. It is a treasure!!! We read it as a read aloud when my in-laws were living with us. Even my MIL loved Ned. My children have read it on their own several times. One of the common questions in our home is, “Has Mrs. Coyle written another book yet?”


  5. Suzie says

    I don’t Tweet nor do I facebook…..

    We’ve been studying the Holocaust and Number the Stars by Lois Lowry is a great historical fiction read.


  6. Christy C. says

    I’ve been enjoying historical fiction by Tracie Peterson as of late.


  7. A FAVORITE historical novel? I have to pick just one? You would make me choose, wouldn’t you. Well, I can’t. But one of my favorites to read to my class when I taught 5th grade was Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. It’s about the Danish people helping to evacuate Jews during the Holocaust.


  8. Elaine says

    Barbara Coyle is an amazing writer. Her devotional for homeschooling moms is also a treasure!

    Facebooked it!


    • I just wrote her devotional on my “wish list.” Reading Ned: Barnardo Boy was so convicting, I’m sure her book for mom’s is wonderful.


  9. Dovey says

    Of course, when put on the spot, I cannot remember any historical fiction, including ones that we’re reading now. I’m not sure if The Bears of Blue River could be considered historical fiction but it’s our literature selection right now and is based here in IN, not far from where we live. The kids are all enjoying it and we’re on the last chapter now.


  10. Shared on FB on the Special Needs Homeschooling group page. I also shared on my blog because I feel it is worthy. I know it doesn’t get an entry, but I wanted you to know. ; )


  11. Can’t wait to have Ned join our family. We have a special reason for reading orphan books and are also performing in a local production of Oliver! and this should be much more readable for our 9-year-old.


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