The Grave Robber's Secret

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Overview

The night his father forces him to help empty a grave to sell its contents to the medical college, Robby Hare swears he will never rob another grave. Yet he can't resist his fascination with the discoveries he knows the doctors will make as a result of their gruesome nighttime mission. Robby's wish for another way for his family to make ends meet is answered when William Burke and his daughter, Martha, come to live at their boarding house. Although he is grateful to avoid the graveyard, Robby senses something ...

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The Grave Robber's Secret

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Overview

The night his father forces him to help empty a grave to sell its contents to the medical college, Robby Hare swears he will never rob another grave. Yet he can't resist his fascination with the discoveries he knows the doctors will make as a result of their gruesome nighttime mission. Robby's wish for another way for his family to make ends meet is answered when William Burke and his daughter, Martha, come to live at their boarding house. Although he is grateful to avoid the graveyard, Robby senses something dangerous about Burke, and suspects him of involving his father in a broader web of evil-and possibly murder. Can Robby expose their scheme before innocent lives are lost?

In an exciting journey through the back alleys and graveyards of Philadelphia in the 1800s, to the halls of the nation's first hospital and the frontiers of medical research, Anna Myers will capture readers with the darker days of history.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Justina Engebretson
Late at night, when all is still and quiet, Robby Hare follows his Da to the graveyard. There they dig up the body of a recently buried young girl and cart her body off to the nearby medical school in town. They sell her body to the doctor who wants the body for medical research. Robby is sick about what his Da has made him do and vows never to do so again, but the very next night his Da forces him to dig another grave. Just when Robby has made plans to run away, Mr. Burke and his young daughter Martha come to town and take up residence in Robby's mother's boarding house. The arrival of Mr. Burke puts a halt to the grave digging, much to Robby's relief. Robby and Martha quickly become close friends, and slowly Martha begins to reveal some secrets about her father. There is something sinister about Mr. Burke, but Robby cannot figure out exactly what it is. Soon his father goes into business with Mr. Burke, business that they conduct upstairs in one of the rooms of the house. Robby becomes suspicious when more bodies begin to arrive at the medical school. When he learns what is really happening, will he be able to save himself and those he loves most? Set in Philadelphia during the 1800s, this middle reader is full of chilling suspense and wickedness. Parents should be cautioned that this story discusses cutting up dead bodies and dumping out body parts may not be appropriate for young children. This book will most likely appeal to an audience of teen boys who enjoy historical fiction full of suspense and gruesome horror. Reviewer: Justina Engebretson
School Library Journal
Gr 5–9—It is the 1800s in Philadelphia, the home of the nation's first hospital. Doctors use bodies robbed from graves to conduct medical research. Robby Hare's father forces him to help dig up the corpses and then sell them to the medical college to help make ends meet. Despite his reluctance, the boy is intrigued by the discoveries that doctors may make from the cadavers. He sees firsthand what they are doing behind the scenes when he is offered a job to help clean at the school. Still, Robby wishes his Da would stop grave robbing. When mysterious William Burke and his daughter come to live in the Hares' boardinghouse, Robby is able to avoid the graveyard by this distraction, but suspects that Burke is involving his father in some possible murders. He must expose their plans before more lives are taken. Myers based this book on the true story of Burke and Hare, who actually murdered people in the 1820s and sold their bodies in Edinburgh, Scotland. She switched the city and took some liberties with the plot; nevertheless, this is a well-written and fascinating look back in time.—Shannon Seglin, Patrick Henry Library, Vienna, VA
Kirkus Reviews

After being forced by his angry, alcoholic, Irish-immigrant father to dig up newly buried bodies and sell them to a nearby Philadelphia medical school, 12-year-old Robby Hare's luck turns from bad to worse when his family rents its last vacant rooms to devious William Burke and his typhoid-survivor daughter, Martha. Even as Robby and Martha traipse around their neighborhood, helping mentally challenged Daft Jane and other needy folks, the two cloying do-gooders also try to figure out where their cunning fathers continually disappear together and why late-night visitors are mysteriously absent the next morning. Although she bases Hare and Burke on infamous, real-life murderers from 19th-century Edinburgh, Scotland, prolific historical-fiction author Myers misses the mark this time with a creeping pace, stilted dialogue and an anticlimactic ending. Even Robby's gruesome job at the medical school (where he's asked to dump body parts in a well and allowed to observe early modern medicine), his observations on women's inequality and his budding independence are not enough to hold readers' attention. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 8-12)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802721839
  • Publisher: Walker & Company
  • Publication date: 2/15/2011
  • Pages: 208
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 650L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Anna Myers is the author of almost twenty books, including, most recently, Time of the Witches and Spy. Tulsa Burning was a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age, and Spy was an Oklahoma Book Award winner. Anna lives in Oklahoma.

www.annamyers.info

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2013

    Roby

    Great kid

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