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The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell.

August 4, 2019 Comments off

good thievesThe Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2019.

This is children’s story telling at it’s very best. I am pleased to discover Katherine Rundell.

Set in New York probably in the 1920’s it is a battle for social and legal justice in which the poor and downtrodden take on a rich villain and win.

Vita is a girl of 11 or 12 years old with reddish brown hair of a freshly washed fox. She goes with her mother to New York to help her grandpa who has been swindled out of his castle by a ruthless conman called Sorrotore. Not only is he a thug but he is of a class that is trained not to see the poor and the poverty around them. He doesn’t care.

Vita confronts him in his own apartment in the Dakota building on 72nd street where John Lennon would later be killed. In the process she meets an Irish girl called Silk who is an accomplished pickpocket and safe breaker and seeks her assistance to break into her grandpas castle and find a hidden emerald necklace. She declines at first.

Vita also meets two boys  from a circus playing at Carnegie Hall, Arkady and Samuel, who have trapeze skills and are clever with animals. They too are seconded to help Vita get the castle back for grandpa.

The adventure is gripping and the plot has a weasel like quality to it – cunning. Katherine Rundell has great descriptive ability in her writing and you will not put this novel down willingly.

For primary, intermediate and junior high school readers. The find of the year so far.

Theophilus Grey and the Demon Thief by Catherine Jinks.

September 2, 2015 Comments off

demon thiefTheophilus Grey and the Demon Thief by Catherine Jinks. Pub. Allen&Unwin, 2015.

Something is scaring the living daylights out of the street life of Georgian London. Crime rate has soared, two men have been laid unconscious without any sign of being hit and rumours of supernatural interference are rampant.

12 year old Philo is a linkboy. His job is to deliver messages and to guide people through the dark dangerous and filthy alleys of London town by torch light. He works for a Fagan type character  named Garnet who sells remedies for various ailments and conditions but also provides information to the Magistrate in return for money. Most of the characters live in extreme poverty.

Philo gets a new client, a surgeon called Mr Paxton who treats him well but continually presses for information. What is he up to? What has a the return of returned prisoner Cockeye McAuliffe got to do with it and what sort of beast has caused the criminal boarding house the Rats Castle to close down? Is there a demon wandering the town a la Jack the Ripper? Read this exciting novel and find out.

A superb historical mystery thriller by Catherine Jinks who specialises in such historical pieces. This is book 1 of a series  and the recreation of Georgian London with it’s darkness, mysticism, extreme poverty and array of vivid characters is superb. The detail is incredible right down to the language spoken, there is even a glossary in the back of the book.

The best book of it’s kind that I have read for some time for children aged 10 years to 13years

Trash by Andy Mulligan

September 27, 2010 Leave a comment

Trash by Andy Mulligan. Pub. David Fickling Books, 2010.

This is a stunning novel about poverty, life, corruption and survival in a Third World nation. No country is named but it is most likely the Phillippines.

The reaction you have when you finish the story is Yes Yes Yes! If you have seen the film Slumdog Millionaire then you have got the picture.

Raphael, Gordo and Jun Jun live and work in the dump of a large city. They sift the rubbish as it comes in hoping for a big find that never comes for most. They are dirty, diseased and live an appalling life style.

One day Raphael finds a wallet containing 1100 pesos, an encrypted note,  a key and an identy card. The next day police are around asking about it, offering a reward and Raphael consults his friends Gordo and Jun Jun as to what to do. Because of the urgency shown by the police they decide to unravel the clues given and see what can be found.

What they unravel will leave you breathless and keep you reading till the end of this  tension filled story. It also has a book code to break amidst the action.

A story in five parts narrated by all three boys and an array of characters that fill in crucial parts of the story. It is a story of corruption by high ranking politicians, police and even lesser officials and is probably the way things are in many Third World Countries. The fact that three dump kids can outwit them all, is the most appealing part of the story.

One of the best novels for school years 6/7/8 and even junior high school that I have read this year. It exposes a world we rarely think about but should know about. You will not regret reading this beauty.