A Roman Rescue

Written by Emma Dodd (illus.) K. A. Gerrard
Review by Elizabeth Hawksley William Stockton

Ancient Rome. Young Charlie and his dog Bandit fall down a hole and find themselves in Rome during the reign of the emperor Hadrian. Charlie meets Cosmo, son of an important Senator, and his adventures begin. The dastardly Grumio, Cosmo’s cousin, is plotting with the tutor Porcus to oust Cosmo from his father’s favour and install Grumio as head of the household. It all hinges on a chariot race: if Grumio wins, Cosmo will be humiliated. Things are looking bad for Cosmo – all he has are two old donkeys.

Worse, Porcus and Grumio plan to sacrifice Bandit to the goddess Fortuna to ensure Grumio’s victory. Can Charlie rescue Bandit and thwart Grumio? Can Cosmo and the donkeys win the chariot race? It’s a race against time…

This somewhat absurd story is greatly enhanced by Emma Dodd’s lively illustrations. She’s very good at expression, and a few simple lines show us exactly what everyone is thinking. I love the horrible Porcus’s ferocious eyebrows and fat, sleek look.

As a postscript, there are four pages of ‘Charlie’s Notebook’, subtitled ‘Useful things to remember if you’re ever in Ancient Rome’. We are taken on a whistle stop tour of the Roman Empire, looking at gods and goddesses, the Colosseum, the Circus Maximus, clothes, jewellery, toys, food and school work. I find it difficult to credit that girls of good family were sent to school; surely only boys had that privilege; though, doubtless, girls were taught weaving and, if they were lucky, to read and write, at home.

The author has gone to some trouble in ‘Charlie’s Notebook’ to give her young readers a reality check as to what ancient Rome was really like and to make a clear distinction between her fun story and the historical truth.

Boys of six plus should love this book.

Elizabeth Hawksley


I really liked A Roman Rescue, it was easy to read and fun and had some Roman names to try and say. I am doing Romans at school soon, so I liked learning about the way they lived and things like the clothes they wore and what they ate. I’m glad they found their way home, and that Charlie and Cosmo met up as friends again in this time. The Romans were clever but a bit nasty. I don’t think I’d like to be one, but I do like all the gods and goddesses, they are much more interesting and fun than our God at school. Bandit was funny and sweet. I liked the bit where they won the chariot race with their skateboard. Romans didn’t have skateboards, but I’m sure they could have invented them if they wanted to. Mummy doesn’t know why they didn’t invent skateboards.

William Stockton, age 6