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A PICKPOCKET’S TALE by Karen Schwabach

A PICKPOCKET’S TALE

By Karen Schwabach

Age Range: 9 - 14

Pub Date: Oct. 24th, 2006
ISBN: 0-375-83379-X
Publisher: Random House

A first novel with lots of concrete and engaging historical detail. Molly is a pickpocket in 1730 London, about ten years old, and sentenced to indenture in “Virginia,” the term used for all of America. She’s sponsored and purchased by a Jewish family in New York after a horrendous ocean crossing. Molly is crafty and fearful, barely aware that she was bought because she is Jewish herself, and focuses on naught but how to get back to London and the thieving life that is all she knows. Readers will be aghast to see, as she is fed and clothed and taught (and bathed) for the first time, how fiercely she fights against these things, longing instead for the vicious but familiar habits of the London streets. She sees the light, of course, in a less-than-thrilling dénouement. The use of the London thieves’ dialect Flash-cant is interesting, but the rest of the story’s language could be spoken by 21st-century folk. Still, it is a fascinating topic rarely covered for a middle-grade readership. (map, historical note, glossary) (Historical fiction. 9-14)