THE TOBY MAN by Dick King-Smith


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Age Range: 7 - 12
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Like Lindgren's Ronia, the Robber's Daughter (1983), young Tod Golightly comes "from a long line of robbers." Unlike Ronia, he's prepared to follow in their footsteps, beginning immediately after his father fails to survive an encounter with a blunderbuss. Tod's first attempt fails because his intended victim is deaf and comically mistakes his every demand. Tod soon assembles a band of animals with whom he can converse (though no one else in the story has this facility): Matilda, a wise, motherly donkey who conspires in her own abduction from a cruel master; her friend Digby, a mastiff; Evil, a ferret whose friendship belies his name; and a magpie. They do rob one stagecoach, but Tod is nabbed on his next attempt; fortunately, he has meanwhile made friends with a kindly parson who cleverly- -if mendaciously--convinces the court that Tod's an innocent, and then adopts him on condition that he becomes one. Not as creatively plotted as some of King-Smith's others (Martin's Mice, 1989) but entertaining--with the dialogue a delightful blend of whimsy and common sense. Readers may later go on to Leon Garfield. Glossary of 18th-century terms (a toby man is "a robber who holds up travelers on the road"). (Fiction. 7-12)
Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-517-58134-5
Page count: 119pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1991


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