Lucky button by Michael Morpurgo
Ill. by Michael Foreman. Walker Books, 2017. ISBN 9781406371680
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. Themes: Orphans, Foundling Hospital (London), Illness, Bullying, Friendship, Schools. When Jonah is bullied he takes refuge in the chapel in his school, once a Foundling Hospital in the country, used after the London premises became overcrowded. Here he meets the spirit of a foundling, named Nat Hogarth, who loves to play the organ, a noise sometimes heard by the students, giving rise to the story of ghosts of the children who once lived there. Nat relates his life story to Jonah, telling the reader about this astonishing place.
He tells of his time with foster parents then returned to the hospital for his education before being apprenticed at sixteen revealing the lives of these children, many of whom died while in care, education subservient to trying to deal with disease and malnutrition. Nat is sent to a country house where he is treated poorly, but at his second place he meets the Mozart children with whom he develops a long standing relationship. Readers will be thrilled reading about the place music comes to take within Nat's life, and how it parallels Jonah's life, augmenting the link between the two. This is a charming tale of lives lived two hundred years apart, being pulled together through a love of music. Its beautiful cover and pages of illustrations will ensure the book is read from cover to cover.
The Foundling Museum in London's Brunswick Square is a most arresting place to visit, with art treasures from famous people, Handel and Hogarth for example, who supported the work of the Foundling Hospital, and memorabilia from the unfortunate mothers who left their babies there. Set up in 1739 by sea captain, Thomas Coram, it was the first charitable trust developed to support homeless children, because its founder could not ignore the vast numbers of children left on the streets. To this end he set up the hospital with the help of wealthy supporters who donated art works creating an art gallery unlike any other. The work of the children's trust continued until 1954, and today supports children in a variety of ways. More can be found about this startling place at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foundling_Hospital and the museum at https://foundlingmuseum.org.uk/
(Check 'About' to find information about the foundlings and what is on display) The display of the tokens and mementoes left by the relinquishing mothers will tear at your heart strings.
This museum, not well known on London's tourist trail is well worth a visit and is near the Dickens' Museum. Dickens' portrayal of young lives has parallels within the walls of the Foundling Hospital.