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Carly Mills, Pioneer Girl #4; The Lady with the Lamp, Jane Smith (author), Big Sky Publishing, July 2021.


London! When Simone invites Carly and Dora to stay with her parents in England on holiday, they’re looking forward to an adventure – but they’re not expecting to go back to the past, let alone face discrimination, disease and danger! Thrust back into London of over a hundred years ago, when women were not allowed to have real careers, they meet one woman who is about to change it all: Florence Nightingale.

Through war and peace, Carly and her friends learn that courage sometimes means owning up to your mistakes.


‘ Live life when you have it. Life is a splendid gift – there is nothing small about it.’

Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing, 1820 – 1910.

For any middle grade reader who may be a bit reluctant to pick up a book about history, they needn’t hesitate with Carly Mills, Pioneer Girl. Because adventure, imagination and danger are what they’ll experience, and even within the first page of this fourth title in the series, The Lady with the Lamp, readers will be immediately thrust into the action… just like Carly and her friends, Dora and Simone.

On a trip to London with Simone’s work-obsessed parents, Carly is keen to explore the fascinating city. However, Simone is keen to escape a family who don’t seem to put her needs first. Coincidentally, upon wrapping themselves in their magic, time-travelling shawls, the three girls come face to face with an old-fashioned, smelly London and a fiercely kind woman named Flo in the year 1853. Flo is a young Florence Nightingale, whose wealthy family share an unaccepting view of her working intentions – a feeling of isolation that Simone can relate to. However, through her perseverance, tenacity and courage, Florence takes the girls on her mission to nurse sick and wounded soldiers of war. Together, along with 35 other nurse trainees, they voyage on rough, sickening seas to the Scutari Hospital in the Crimea, Turkey. The conditions there are shocking. Not only do they face the stench, dirt, disease and cold, but Florence also has to defend her role and value as both a nurse and a woman. As Carly, Dora and Simone travel to and from the past and the present, they visit Florence Nightingale at various times in her career and admire her merits as a recognised public health figure who improved sanitation and saved many lives, and also as a brave, kind and smart statistician and mathematician. She was known fondly as ‘the lady with the lamp’.

Jane Smith remarkably interweaves an exciting, action-packed fictional story with the historical facts of Florence Nightingale’s important work during, and after the Crimean War. Her energetic narrative takes her readers on an imaginative journey to the past, at a time of gender discrimination and disease, all the while staying present with societal pressures and coincidentally, healthcare and modern medicine advancements of today. It is rewarding to feel a sense of knowing the characters’ strengths, flaws and all, as well as being inspired and empowered by their courage and determination.

The Lady with the Lamp is complete with contents, well-paced, absorbing chapters, expressive black and white sketches throughout, a historical note and a fun Q and A with Florence at the back. It ticks all the boxes in terms of engaging middle to upper grade readers during and after reading, and providing scope for discussion and lessons in history, humanities and social studies, women’s rights, and health.

Shining a light on a woman who helped to shape history, and shining a path to shape a better future, this highly recommended book is truly inspiring, exhilarating and intriguing. Look out for the whole series!

Review by Romi Sharp.

Read our review of Carly Mills; A New World.

Please follow Jane Smith at her website: Jane Smith, Author – Home (janesmithauthor.com)

The official Carly Mills, Pioneer Girl website: CARLY MILLS, PIONEER GIRL – Carly Mills, Pioneer Girl (carlymillspioneergirl.com)

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The Carly Mills, Pioneer Girl series is available for purchase through: Big Sky Publishing | Booktopia

WIN a Trip to the Past with the Carly Mills 4 #BookGiveaway!

Click here to ENTER to WIN a copy of the exciting time-travelling adventure, The Lady with the Lamp!

Join us as we time travel with Jane Smith and her exciting historical fiction chapter book, Carly Mills Pioneer Girl; The Lady with the Lamp, across the blogosphere and at the following media sources…


Creative Editing Panel and Book Launch with Jane Smith

WHEN: August 14, 2021 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm

WHERE: Hills District Community Centre Hall, Arana Hills 4054

FREE Event. Register HERE.

Organised by Books On Tour PR & Marketing. Email: info.booksontour@gmail.com

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