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THE NOTORIOUS IZZY FINK by Don Brown Kirkus Star


by Don Brown

Age Range: 11 - 14

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 1-59643-139-3
Publisher: Deborah Brodie/Roaring Brook

Recruited from the streets of the Lower East Side in the 1890s, Sam and Izzy must retrieve gangster boss Monk Eastman’s prize racing pigeon from a cholera ship anchored in the harbor, thus bringing them into a dangerous relationship with the vicious mobster. There is plenty of action—gang fights, stealing aboard the eerie death ship, facing the wrath of a displeased crime boss—but New York City itself steals the show here, and Brown does an unusually fine job of evoking children’s life on the streets, hawking newspapers, picking pockets, mucking out stables—anything to make pennies. Short chapters, a brisk pace, lively dialogue and a compelling plot provide a totally engaging tale. Though readers may object to coarse words and ethnic slurs mouthed by characters, such language is as much a part of the flavor and authenticity the novel strives for as the descriptions of pushcarts, newsies and tenements. A good match with Deborah Hopkinson’s Shutting Out the Sky (2003) and Brown’s own picture book Kid Blink Beats the World (2004). (author’s note) (Fiction. 11-14)