Friday, 14 October 2011

The Adventures of the New Cut Gang by Philip Pullman (Children's, 9 years +)

September 2011, David Fickling Books
352 pages, Hardback
Review copy 

Children's, 9 years + 

Themes: historical and hysterical, highly intelligent gang members, compassion and disbelief, thieves, wax museum, detective work, some mild romance, a few tissues needed. 

Thunderbolt, Benny, Birdie and Sharky Bob are a mixed bunch of vagabonds and urchins who come together to form the New Cut Gang in two comic tales of stolen silver, skulduggery and desperadoes. 

Fake coins are turning up all over Lambeth and the finger of suspicion is pointing at Thunderbolt's dad - could he really be the forger? The crime-busting New Cut Gang come to the rescue! 

And when just two clues - a blob of wax and a Swedish match - are discovered at the scene of a break-in, the children find themselves on the trail of an extremely cunning criminal. 

Nayuleska's reasons for loving Thunderbolt...all members of the gang have engaging and very surprising aspects of their character. Yet Thunderbolt had me tearing up when the sky fell on his head and his father was in trouble. It shocked me to get so attached to a boy, as I usually prefer girl characters (see below) but his unspoken love for his father shone through. 

Is there another character who deserves a mention? Make that characters, as the twins are always together. They do such daring things that could only be true because the twins were involved (if that makes sense.) 

How evil/nasty is the enemy? Well, framing innocent people is really not that friendly, and stealing items which would be hard to sell on is stupid. 

Are there lots of plot twists and surprises? It felt that every page I was either laughing or shaking my head with a bewildered expression thinking 'what?'. 

One of my favourite parts was...when one of the girls tried her hand at hair styling,  because the description of her left no doubt that only stupid people could pull the wool over her eyes. 

This is a funny read, both light and moving, getting 9/10 from me. 

Suggested read
If you like a wide range of people working together, try Candle Man by Glen Dakin

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