Tuesday, February 19, 2013
a good book.
Author: Terry Pratchett
Age Range: 13 up
Genre: Historical Fiction/YA
Rating: PG-13 (violence, sexual innuendo)
Dodger is an orphan in Victorian London, making his way in the world as a tosher, searching the sewers for lost coins, rings etc. One stormy night he’s crawling out of a hole in the ground when he encounters a group of thugs beating a young girl. He comes to her rescue and unwittingly finds himself entangled in an international incident with Charles Dickens stepping in to lend a hand. At first Dodger plays Baker Street Irregular to Dickens' Sherlock Holmes but Dodger quickly moves into his own (it is his story after all) and uses his street smarts to his every advantage.
In the process of trying to uncover the truth of the girl's identity (and protect her from further harm) he also crosses paths with Sweeney Todd, Benjamin Disraeli, Angela Burdett-Coutts and even HRH Queen Victoria herself (among others).
Sprinkled liberally with cockney and colloquialisms as well as some helpful (and humorous) footnotes this is a delightful read particularly for those who can appreciate all of the historical references and meta moments. This is a coming of age/self-discovery story teeming with Pratchett's trademark humor and bringing a well-loved age of history to life.
Just a small sampling of some of my favorite passages:
Dodger had heard that god watches everything, although he thought that around the rookeries, He tended to close His eyes. -pg 268
"Well, dear Mrs. Mayhew, I can promise you that there will not be any hanky-panky, because I do not know what panky is and I've never had a hanky. Only a handkerchief." -pg 93
Dodger had never read a book, but if he had ever done so, he would have read the cook just like it--and it was amazing how much you could glean from a look, or a snort, or even a fart if it was dropped into the conversation at just the right place. -pg 21
If you have any interest in Victorian London or Charles Dickens and his writing you're sure to appreciate this creative and wholly original homage to both. And as a bonus, it was one of this year's Printz honor winners.