|Bandit's tale : the muddled misadventures of a pickpocket
Author: Hopkinson, Deborah
In March of 1887, Rocco, an eleven-year-old from an Italian village, arrives in New York City where he is forced to live in squalor and beg for money as a street musician, but he finds the city's cruelty to children and animals intolerable and sets out to make things better, whatever the cost to himself.
|Accelerated Reader Information:
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 5.10
Points: 9.0 Quiz: 181143
|Reading Counts Information:
Interest Level: 6-8
Reading Level: 4.50
Points: 14.0 Quiz: 68587
School Library Journal (02/01/16)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (04/16)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 02/01/2016 Gr 4–7—As this lively, fast-paced novel attests, the streets of late 19th-century New York City were especially cruel to young immigrants trying to improve their chances of upward mobility. Eleven-year-old Rocco, newly arrived in New York after a misunderstanding caused by an obstinate donkey, is sold to a cruel and miserly padrone who sends "his" group of children to perform as street musicians. Anxious to fill his hungry belly and escape his wretched living conditions, Rocco joins a group of pickpockets, and although he's increasingly uncomfortable about taking people's money, he's able to justify his actions until he meets Meddlin' Mary, a young Irish girl who, with her father, is devoted to caring for the city's mistreated and overworked horses. Through his encounter with Mary and her father, Rocco is immersed in a new world, and he meets historical figures, including Jacob Riis, who were instrumental in social reform movements dedicated to improving the lives of children and animals. In a picaresque style, Rocco narrates his own journey from a street bandit to a prison escapee and ultimately to a young man dedicated to improving the lives of other immigrants. VERDICT A strong choice for fans of Rodman Philbrick's The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg (Scholastic, 2009) and those who enjoy adventures about scrappy and resourceful kids who have to rely on their own smarts and the kindness of strangers to change their lives.—Shelley Sommer, Inly School, Scituate, MA - Copyright 2016 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Bulletin for the Center... - 04/01/2016 When the Zaccaro family’s fortunes become so dire they must send one of their children away from their Italian village, eleven-year-old son Rocco is an easy choice, since the family’s well-to-do landlord suspects him of theft. A deal is done in the dead of night, and Rocco is led away by a padrone to become a street musician in America, with his family to receive twenty dollars a year throughout his indenture. Since Rocco is scarred to indicate his affiliation with the padrone, his chances of escape are small, so he’s forced to accept favors that indebt him to a gang of juvenile thugs. And this is just the beginning of a series of events that will take him to an asylum for delinquent children, into the Blizzard of 1888, into the employ of a blacksmith with an animal rights activist daughter, back into the mean streets of New York with Jacob Riis, and ultimately into a showdown with the gang that still holds him in their thrall. The street-urchin story races along at breakneck clip, and as a bonus to historical fiction fans who read endnotes, Hopkinson supplies lengthy back matter that expands on facets of the novel from its picaresque form to the real-life players (like Riis) that influence Rocco’s life. Period photos scattered throughout add you-are-there realism, and a “How to Talk Like a Thief” glossary may provide middle-school literati with a fresh alternative to Talk Like a Pirate Day. EB - Copyright 2016 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
Booklist - 04/15/2016 In an Italian hill town in 1887, a man approaches Rocco’s father and offers to take his disgraced 11-year-old son, an accused bandit, to America. There his new employer cuts the boy’s lip to create a distinctive scar and sends him out to beg. Rocco intends to make something of himself, but he is unprepared for the hardscrabble life in the slums of New York City. He becomes a self-described guttersnipe, liar, and pickpocket. Escaping from a boy’s prison, Rocco finds temporary work with a good-hearted blacksmith, but it takes more than that to turn his life around. Rocco needs all his wits, determination, and courage as well. Hopkinson, whose Shutting Out the Sky: Life in the Tenements of New York, 1880–1924 (2003) also explored immigrants’ lives, offers an eye-opening novel written from the point of view of a child who adapts, survives, and works for a better life. Incorporating several historical figures as characters, this thoroughly researched historical novel paints a vivid portrait of an unprotected street child during the period. - Copyright 2016 Booklist.