Sparrows in the Sculleryby Barbara Brooks Wallace, Richard Williams
Wealthy, orphaned Colley is kidnapped, placed in the awful Broggin Home for Boys, and put to work in a dangerous glass factory. Someone wants Colley dead, but that person has not counted on five scrappy boys, fellow inmates, who are determined that Colley will live.
That's the horror that befalls once privileged, recently orphaned Colley Trevelyan, 11. The action takes off at a horse's gallop: After his parents are killed in a carriage accident, Colley is kidnapped and sold to the Broggin Home for Boys. There he is stripped of his name and put to work in a glass factory. It's a far cry from the servants and estate to which he's accustomed, but Colley becomes close to the other boys, and learns about friendship, teamwork, and survival. Wallace is deliberately Dickensian in her portrait of the home and the boys, yet the tale is full of hope: The boys find an unexpected savior, and readers will be borne along by the suspense to an exhilarating conclusion.
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This book was touching and incredible, and I really enjoyed it when I read it in the 5th or 6th grade. I am a lover, scholar, and veteran of whimsical children's literature and this story has all the panache and pizzazz of Funke, Levine, or Rowling!