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The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid
Cover of The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid
The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid
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From the creators of the New York Times bestselling Wildwood Chronicles comes an original, humorous, and fast-paced middle grade novel about a band of child pickpockets—imagine The Invention of Hugo Cabret meets Oliver Twist.

It is an ordinary Tuesday morning in April when bored, lonely Charlie Fisher witnesses something incredible. Right before his eyes, in a busy square in Marseille, a group of pickpockets pulls off an amazing robbery. As the young bandits appear to melt into the crowd, Charlie realizes with a start that he himself was one of their marks.

Yet Charlie is less alarmed than intrigued. This is the most thrilling thing that's happened to him since he came to France with his father, an American diplomat. So instead of reporting the thieves, Charlie defends one of their cannons, Amir, to the police, under one condition: he teach Charlie the tricks of the trade.

What starts off as a lesson on pinches, kicks, and chumps soon turns into an invitation for Charlie to join the secret world of the whiz mob, an international band of child thieves who trained at the mysterious School of Seven Bells. The whiz mob are independent and incredibly skilled and make their own way in the world—they are everything Charlie yearns to be. But what at first seemed like a (relatively) harmless new pastime draws him into a dangerous adventure with global stakes greater than he could have ever imagined.

From the creators of the New York Times bestselling Wildwood Chronicles comes an original, humorous, and fast-paced middle grade novel about a band of child pickpockets—imagine The Invention of Hugo Cabret meets Oliver Twist.

It is an ordinary Tuesday morning in April when bored, lonely Charlie Fisher witnesses something incredible. Right before his eyes, in a busy square in Marseille, a group of pickpockets pulls off an amazing robbery. As the young bandits appear to melt into the crowd, Charlie realizes with a start that he himself was one of their marks.

Yet Charlie is less alarmed than intrigued. This is the most thrilling thing that's happened to him since he came to France with his father, an American diplomat. So instead of reporting the thieves, Charlie defends one of their cannons, Amir, to the police, under one condition: he teach Charlie the tricks of the trade.

What starts off as a lesson on pinches, kicks, and chumps soon turns into an invitation for Charlie to join the secret world of the whiz mob, an international band of child thieves who trained at the mysterious School of Seven Bells. The whiz mob are independent and incredibly skilled and make their own way in the world—they are everything Charlie yearns to be. But what at first seemed like a (relatively) harmless new pastime draws him into a dangerous adventure with global stakes greater than he could have ever imagined.

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  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
  • Lexile:
    840
  • Interest Level:
  • Text Difficulty:
    4 - 5

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Awards-
About the Author-
  • Colin Meloy is the writer of the bestselling Wildwood Chronicles and the singer and songwriter for the band the Decemberists. The Golden Thread: A Song for Pete Seeger is his first picture book. He once joined Pete Seeger onstage, singing American folk standards at the Newport Folk Festival in 2011, and even now, he can barely believe it actually happened, it was so cool. He lives just outside Portland, Oregon, with his family.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 14, 2017
    Meloy and Ellis (the Wildwood Chronicles) blend shades of Dickens, Rowling, and Robin Hood in the idiosyncratic tale of a 12-year-old American boy in 1960s Marseille. Charlie Fisher is the son of the American consul general and has bounced from country to country with his father after his mother, a German heiress/actress, decided she was done with parenting. This itinerant lifestyle leaves Charlie bereft of true friends until he saves a Lebanese boy, Amir, from being picked up by the police. Amir introduces Charlie to a world of pickpockets and grifting via the Whiz Mob of Marseille, a group of children and teens, graduates of an elite Colombian academy, the School of Seven Bells. What begins as a lark and a way to make friends quickly turns into something sinister, challenging Charlie’s perceptions of the world. Themes of friendship and making amends are skillfully woven throughout. Although the ending is abrupt, the novel’s extravagant vocabulary and Meloy’s attention to detail vividly evoke the period setting and will reward ambitious readers. Art not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House.

  • School Library Journal

    August 1, 2017

    Gr 5-8-Charlie Fisher lives with his neglectful diplomat father in Marseille, France, in 1961. Outside of the time he spends with his tutor, Charlie wiles away his hours alone-until the day he observes a group of child pickpockets at work and realizes he's been one of their marks. Instead of being angered by this, Charlie is curious. After following the boy who stole his pen and saving him from the police, Charlie asks Amir to teach him how to be pick pockets too. The more Charlie learns about the group, known as the whiz mob, the more he feels like he's finally found some friends and a place to belong. But as Charlie gets pulled further into their world, he discovers that this is no ordinary band of thieves. The whiz mob originates at the School of Seven Bells in Colombia, where all the group members were trained and tested. The whiz mob he knows is only one of many located all over the globe. Charlie's relationship with the mob changes dramatically when his new hobby suddenly has global implications and he finds that those he considers his friends may not have his best interests at heart. Meloy offers detailed descriptions of both Marseille and the young thieves. The unusual vocabulary makes the glossary at the end a necessity for understanding whiz mob dialogue. VERDICT With equal doses of humor and action, this is likely to attract a fairly wide range of voracious readers, especially fans of Meloy's "Wildwood Chronicles."-Heidi Grange, Summit Elementary School, Smithfield, UT

    Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    August 1, 2017
    Charlie, the shy son of an American diplomat in France, discovers a thrilling, dangerous underworld whose young denizens prey on the unsuspecting elite of 1961 Marseille. Watching Amir, a gifted young pickpocket, in action, the 12-year-old white boy is impressed and, after helping him avoid arrest, asks Amir to teach him his trade. With Amir's support, Charlie is admitted to his gang, the multiracial Whiz Mob of Marseille: kids who hail from Lebanon, the U.S., Europe, Japan, and Africa. In their lair under a derelict bar, the mob plots elaborate heists, targeting the wealthy where they congregate. Neglected by his estranged parents (German heiress mother, remote Anglo dad), Charlie's thrilled to belong. But the deeper he's drawn in, the higher the stakes become, culminating in a perilous journey to the remote School of Seven Bells in Colombia. Meloy takes his time moving pieces on his elaborate chessboard, describing the vivid scenery, human and otherwise, and introducing characters whose dialogue is adorned with colorful pickpocket argot (glossary provided). Patient readers are rewarded as Charlie is pulled into the whiz mob and suspense mounts. Even then the omniscient narrator will interrupt with comments on authorial choices: Charlie refuses a glass of champagne, readers are told, to meet the expectations of librarians and booksellers. Ellis' charming illustrations (finished art not seen) adeptly capture the playful tone and decidedly period setting. A gleefully metafictional caper and middle-grade picaresque bound to appeal to discerning young readers. (Adventure. 8-12)

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist (starred review) "There's a lot to be said for a good, old-fashioned caper. Meloy accomplishes this rare feat with panache, turning out an infectious—and at times cinematic—adventure suffused with personal growth, secrecy, sleight of hand, and higher stakes than the story's protagonist ever imagined."
  • Kirkus Reviews "Ellis' charming illustrations adeptly capture the playful tone and decidedly period setting. A gleefully metafictional caper and middle-grade picaresque bound to appeal to discerning young readers."
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    HarperCollins
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The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid
The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid
Colin Meloy
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