The Garbage King

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Overview

This novel of unusual power for older boys and girls tells the gripping and dramatic story of homeless street children forced to do whatever they have to do in order to stay alive in the brutal slums of an Ethiopian city. The two main characters, Mamo and Dani, come from stable families but are hurled by circumstances beyond their control into the dangers and deprivations of street life. They find a makeshift way to survive when they are taken into a street gang led by a tough but likable boy named Million. The ...

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The Garbage King

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Overview

This novel of unusual power for older boys and girls tells the gripping and dramatic story of homeless street children forced to do whatever they have to do in order to stay alive in the brutal slums of an Ethiopian city. The two main characters, Mamo and Dani, come from stable families but are hurled by circumstances beyond their control into the dangers and deprivations of street life. They find a makeshift way to survive when they are taken into a street gang led by a tough but likable boy named Million. The gang is composed of kids who have never known the security and happiness of family life. Children of our own culture, who take for granted the protections and comforts of home and family, will be shocked when they read this spellbinding story, but they will also learn about the deprivations, uncertainties, and sometimes the stark terror experienced today by too many Third World children. The story of Mamo and Dani, although alarming in its authenticity, is also an inspiring tale of courage and generosity in a world where danger and anxiety are the norm.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This workmanlike novel clearly portrays the grim options facing street kids in Ethiopia. After the death of his drunken, abusive mother, on the verge of eviction from the home he shares with his sister, Mamo is kidnapped by a man masquerading as his long-lost uncle and sold into slavery on a farm, then escapes back to the city. Spoiled, wealthy Dani takes to the streets when his lackluster performance in a private school so enrages his father that he plans to send Dani to live with his tough old Somali servant ("If anyone can make a man out of you, Feisal can"). While Laird (Jake's Tower) faithfully sketches the dangers facing these protagonists, many relationships seem superficially developed. For example, Mamo's sister is said to have raised him and cared for him ("She'd staggered around with him on her hip, though she was hardly more than a toddler herself"), but she reacts to his disappearance with relief and feels guilt ("although she hardly knew why") only when she learns he has joined a gang of godana, street kids, "the lowest of the low." The hierarchical, communal relationships between the boys in the gang prove stronger if a bit stereotypical. While the resolution, especially Dani's return to his family, glosses over many of the problems Laird has introduced, her cautionary tale warns readers about the experiences awaiting runaways of any nationality. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-The harsh reality that faces countless children in developing nations is confronted head-on in this powerful and moving novel, as is the gross disparity between the haves and have-nots. Set in Ethiopia, it brings together the stories of two very different boys whose lives converge and are changed forever. After his mother dies, Mamo, 13, is tricked by a slaver and sold to a farmer in the country miles away from the only home he has ever known. After months of brutal treatment, he escapes and makes it back to Addis Ababa where he meets Dani, a chubby boy who has spent his life cloistered in the world of privilege. He is a talented writer, but other areas of his studies elude him, leading his strict father to send him away to be disciplined. Dani runs away to avoid this fate and meets up with Mamo. They meet a gang of street children, led by a boy named Million. Street life with this group is difficult and dangerous, but the boys become a family and both their tragedies and triumphs are painted in vivid, authentic, and often horrific detail. Background for the story's inspiration is included in an introduction and an afterword. Readers are sure to become involved in this compelling story, and teachers will find a wealth of inspiration to lead their students in further research.-Genevieve Gallagher, Orange County Public Library, VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780330415026
  • Publisher: Pan Macmillan
  • Publication date: 4/2/2004
  • Edition description: New
  • Pages: 245
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Laird was born in New Zealand but has lived in England since early childhood. She has written many children's books and has won several awards. Her critically praised Red Sky in the Morning was "Highly Commended" for the Carnegie Medal and shortlisted for the Children's Book Award. Her previous novel for Barron's, Jake's Tower, was published in 2002. She and her husband live in Surrey, England.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2003

    You will Love this book

    I recommend this book to everyone young and old. Parents in particular should read this book with their children, so that they too can understand growing pains from a child's point of view. I am not an overly emotional person, but when it come to sensitive issues concerning children, I am easily brought to tears and empathy. This book definitely opened my eyes to worldwide homeless and it has given me inspiration to support these charitable organizations. From now on, when and where ever I see a homeless individual, I will not hesitate to lend a helping hand, financially and emotionally.

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