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Smith (Puffin Books)
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Gr 5-8-Smith, by British author Leon Garfield (Pantheon, 1967), is an action-packed story about a quick, resourceful 12-year-old pickpocket operating in the shady environs in 18th century London. Smith lives in the cellar of the Red Lion Tavern with his two unmarried sisters who alter the clothes of men hanged at the Newgate Jail. After "lifting" something from a gentleman's pocket on a cold December night, Smith witnesses the murder of the same man by two men in brown. What Smith has snatched, and the reason for the man's murder, is a document which he can't identify because he is illiterate. How can he unveil the importance of the document without revealing he has it? He'll have to learn to read, while escaping from the clutches of those looking for the document. Along his journey, he encounters the men in brown, highwaymen, crooked barristers, prisoners, a blind magistrate and his daughter, and a loving housekeeper. Garfield's prose can be compared to that of Dickens and Lemony Snicket. His writing is lyrical and filled with symbolism and alliteration. Narrator Ron Keith is an English actor who has appeared Off-Broadway and on American television. His third-person narration is impeccably executed in a well-paced, rhythmic reading that accurately portrays the many characters' voices. Young listeners will get caught up in the action, but might find the historical setting and the British vernacular a bit mystifying. This audiobook will appeal to those who like Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood (Puffin, 2000) and the Series of Unfortunate Events books by Lemony Snicket (HarperCollins).-Jo-Ann Carhart, East Islip Public Library, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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