Smith: The Story of a Pickpocket

Smith: The Story of a Pickpocket

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by Leon Garfield
     
 

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A Carnegie Medal Honor Book

Twelve-year-old Smith is a denizen of the mean streets of eighteenth-century London, living hand to mouth by virtue of wit and pluck. One day he trails an old gentleman with a bulging pocket, deftly picks it, and as footsteps ring out from the alley by which he had planned to make his escape, finds himself in a tough spot. Taking

Overview

A Carnegie Medal Honor Book

Twelve-year-old Smith is a denizen of the mean streets of eighteenth-century London, living hand to mouth by virtue of wit and pluck. One day he trails an old gentleman with a bulging pocket, deftly picks it, and as footsteps ring out from the alley by which he had planned to make his escape, finds himself in a tough spot. Taking refuge in a doorway, he sees two men emerge to murder the man who was his mark. They rifle the dead man’s pockets and finding them empty, depart in a rage. Smith, terrified, flees the scene of the crime. What has he stolen that is worth the life of a man?

Smith is a gripping, engrossing, and utterly diverting tale of high adventure related by a writer whose scintillating style is matched only by the dazzle of his plotting. In the words of Lloyd Alexander, “Garfield is unmatched for sheer exciting storytelling. The reader simply can’t stop reading him.”

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Winner of the Phoenix Award
A Boston GlobeHorn Book Award Honor Book

“Leon Garfield is unmatched for sheer exciting storytelling. The reader simply can’t stop reading him.” —Lloyd Alexander
 
“It is a fine thing that Leon Garfield’s rip-roaring and funny tales should be brought back into circulation for a new generation of readers.” —Joan Aiken
 
Smith is one of the most interesting children’s books of the year—not only as a period tale, though in this respect it is superb, but also for the strong yet tender comment on the way people feel, now, then, and always.” —The Christian Science Monitor
 
“I like to think that maybe a child of today—who was like the child I was yesterday (and millions of others like me)—will remember the first reading of Smith years from now and say: Yes, that’s the book that opened windows and doors for me, the pivotal book of my childhood.” —Robert Cormier
 
“Vivid characters, imagery, and atmosphere combine to make this a distinguished book for casual reading or for study.” —English Journal

Kirkus Reviews
2013-12-20
"Smith. 'unted, 'ounded, 'omeless, and part gin-sodder. Smith. Twelve year old. That's me. Very small, but wiry, as they say. Dark 'aired and lately residing in the Red Lion Tavern off Saffron 'ill. Smith." This to the blind man he has just knocked down...after witnessing a murder, after retrieving a document he can't decipher, after despairing of finding someone who will teach him to read. The succeeding entanglement takes Smith from genteel comfort to the horrors of Newgate in the company of pharisees and publicans, honest rogues and the devil's cajoling disciple. A disquieting story, told with Mr. Garfield's customary elan; a story that is both somber and sardonic, leavened with raucous good spirits and simple compassion. More Hogarth than Cruikshank, this lacks the gusto of Devil in the Fog (1966) but readers who respond to the author will follow him here.
Children's Literature - Justina Engebretson
It is just another ordinary day in 18th century London for twelve-year-old Smith, a boy who lives by his cleverness and quick hands, while trying to avoid getting “nubbed”. On this particular day, Smith sees an older gentleman with a fat bundle in his pocketWith practiced stealth, Smith trails the old gent down Ludgate Hill to Goldiman Street, finally bumping into him in Curtis Court and relieving the gentleman’s pocket of his precious treasure. As soon as he makes his swipe, he hears footsteps coming and quickly vanishes into hiding. Then right before his eyes, two men in brown take the old man’s life and search his empty pocket, angry when they cannot find what they are looking for. As soon as they leave, Smith runs with all his might. When he finally takes a breath, he pulls out the bundle he took from the gentlemen and discovers it is a document. Smith knows the document must be of great importance, so important that a man was killed for it. The only problem is Smith cannot read and no one else can be trusted. How is he ever going to discover the value of what he holds? Full of gloom, villains, murder, and sinister plans, this middle reader keeps the pages turning, while the prolific prose brings to life the sights and sounds of 18th century London. Smith is a loveable character, who has a kind heart beneath a layer of London grime, and readers will find themselves rooting for him throughout the adventure. Irony and humor are woven throughout, keeping the plot from being too dark for its middle school audience. Reviewer: Justina Engebretson; Ages 10 to 14.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590176757
Publisher:
New York Review Books
Publication date:
10/15/2013
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
216
Sales rank:
432,671
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.80(d)
Lexile:
890L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

What People are saying about this

Winner of the Phoenix Award A Boston GlobeHorn Book Award Honor Book

“Leon Garfield is unmatched for sheer exciting storytelling. The reader simply can’t stop reading him.” —Lloyd Alexander
 
“It is a fine thing that Leon Garfield’s rip-roaring and funny tales should be brought back into circulation for a new generation of readers.” —Joan Aiken
 
Smith is one of the most interesting children’s books of the year—not only as a period tale, though in this respect it is superb, but also for the strong yet tender comment on the way people feel, now, then, and always.” —The Christian Science Monitor
 
“I like to think that maybe a child of today—who was like the child I was yesterday (and millions of others like me)—will remember the first reading of Smith years from now and say: Yes, that’s the book that opened windows and doors for me, the pivotal book of my childhood.” —Robert Cormier
 
“Vivid characters, imagery, and atmosphere combine to make this a distinguished book for casual reading or for study.” —English Journal

Meet the Author

Leon Garfield (1921–1996) was born and raised in the seaside town of Brighton, England. his father owned a series of businesses, and the family’s fortunes fluctuated wildly. Garfield enrolled in art school, left to work in an office, and in 1940 was drafted into the army, serving in the medical corps. After the war, he returned to London and worked as a biochemical technician. in 1948 he married Vivian Alcock, an artist who would later become a successful writer of children’s books, and it was she who encouraged him to write his first novel, Jack Holborn, which was published in 1964. in all, Garfield would write some fifty books, including a continuation of Charles Dickens’s Mystery of Edwin Drood and retellings of biblical and Shakespearian stories. Among his best-known books are Devil-in-the-Fog (1966, winner of The Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize), The God Beneath the Sea (1970, winner of the Carnegie medal), Bostock and Harris; or, The Night of the Comet (1979; forthcoming from The New York Review Children’s Collection), and John Diamond (1980, winner of the Whitbread Award).

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Smith: The Story of a Pickpocket 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
MyBookAddictionandMore More than 1 year ago
MY THOUGHTS: SMITH: THE STORY OF A PICKPOCKET by Leon Garfield is an exciting Children’s book, The New York Review Children’s Collection. Series: A Carnegie Medal Honor Book. Age Level: 9-12. Grade Level: 4-7. With vivid descriptions, charming characters and an engaging story “Smith: The Story of a Pickpocket” makes for an exciting tale of high adventure,and murder. What a great read for a new generation of young readers. Although, readers,both young and old will enjoy this story from the first page to the last. While Mr. Garfield may be long gone his story lives on forever. A treasure for any readers library. What a joy to read!! Received for an honest review from the publisher. RATING: 4.5 HEAT RATING: NONE(CHILDREN’S) REVIEWED BY: AprilR, Review courtesy of My Book Addiction and More