One of Charles Dickens’ most-loved villains gets a fresh outing in this Oliver Twist inspired tale from the fabulous Karen McCombie. True to Barrington Stoke form this read is printed in dyslexia-friendly font and on tinted paper ensuring the book can be accessed by every child.
Although it was a struggle to make ends meet, ten-year-old Ettie, her brother Joe and their mother made the best of what they had. But when Joe walks out and mother dies, Ettie finds herself alone in the world and with no money to pay the rent is out on the streets of London.
Ettie’s luck changes dramatically following a chance meeting with Joe who is thriving under the employment of Mr Fagin. Joe desperately wants to look after his sister but that would mean introducing her to his boss who has a strict boy-only policy. Successfully disguising herself, Ettie is thrilled with her new life, blissfully unaware that Joe is part of Fagin’s criminal enterprise. But when she is forced to go pickpocketing, the truth and a terrible mistake threaten to tear brother and sister apart once more…
Set in Victorian England in 1836, Fagin’s Girl is a thrilling, petty-crime filled adventure that follows two homeless orphans trying to get by on the gritty streets of London. Life in Victorian England is hard when you have no home, no money, no food, no one to care for you and every day is a battle to simply survive. Whilst the rich swan about in their fancy clothes, enjoy luxuries and comforts and have people to sweep the streets for them, Ettie and Joe are doing everything they can to avoid the dreaded workhouses and are just trying to earn a pretty penny or two to feed themselves.
Pacy story-telling along with the illustrations of Anneli Bray will have readers turning the pages quicker than Joe and the gang can pick the pockets of the rich. Crime aside, this is a story of tight family bonds, of the heartbreak of losing everything - family, home and hope, and then regaining hope and harbouring thoughts of better days ahead.
With plenty of historical facts and some fantastic bonus content that discusses the historical aspects of each chapter in more detail - including information on piecework, disease, recycling and repurposing, children and animals - Fagin’s Girl would be a great book to use in class alongside a study of the Victorians.
With huge thanks to Barrington Stoke for the copy I received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Recommended for 8+.