SECRET IN ST. SOMETHING by Barbara Brooks Wallace


Age Range: 10 - 14
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Positively Dickensian in its melodramatic twists and turns, but not in its length, Wallace’s (Ghosts in the Gallery, 2000, etc.) latest page-turner grabs and holds attention. Robin, a slight nine, fears and dreads his stepfather, who beats him and sends him out to collect rents from the miserable New York City tenements they inhabit. When the drunk and loutish Doaks threatens Robin’s baby brother Danny, however, Robin screws up his courage and takes all their clothing, as much milk as he can carry, and a locket from Doaks’s stash of pilfered goods and he runs away with Danny. But what to do? He already knows the taverns, workhouses, and alleys are no place for himself, let alone a baby. Creeping into a church cellar, he finds as neat a pack of lost boys as ever populated a story. Spider, Duck, Piggy, and Mouse, who survive by their wits and shoe-shining, take Robin into their band, teach him their trade, and leave the crippled Piggy as babysitter. Robin in turn begins to teach them to sew (which he learned from his mama) and to read. But Doaks hasn’t given up on finding Robin, and Robin doesn’t feel at all safe or sure. A thrilling dénouement involves deathbed confessions, that purloined locket, and an incredibly joyous ending for Robin and the boys. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: June 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-689-83464-0
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2001


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