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Smith by Leon Garfield
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Smith (original 1967; edition 2012)

by Leon Garfield, Peter Bailey (Illustrator), Peter Gavin (Introduction)

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302737,080 (3.94)16
Member:sdawson
Title:Smith
Authors:Leon Garfield
Other authors:Peter Bailey (Illustrator), Peter Gavin (Introduction)
Info:The Folio Society, London
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:dj, pictorial cover, historical fiction, juvenile, folio society, hc, slipcover

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Smith by Leon Garfield (1967)

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» See also 16 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Murder, betrayal and daring...Garfield is as always, a special treat!

Leon Garfield has long been one of my favourite children's authors, so I lept at the chance to reread Smith. This is pure Dicksonian melodrama for a younger audience. A gift of talent indeed.
The depths of Eighteenth century London slums, where 'the houses reared and clustered as if to shut out the sky,' are no place for the soft or uninitiated. The very atmosphere weeds the weak from the strong, if not through illness and malnourishment, then by the preying on the unknowing. Surrounded by this miasma of complacent intent is Smith, a rapscallion street pickpocket who breezes through the most atrocious situations with an acceptance of life that amazes. Smith lives in the cellar of the Red Lion Inn with his two sisters who eke out a living makeover the gallows clothes of the condemned. They refer to Smith as 'dear Smut' and 'felonious child!' Half will-o-the-wisp, half trickster and with heart of gold, others might be downcast and resentful at their lot but not so young 'glass-half-full' Smith.
Garfield's language draws you in. I was grabbed from the first with utterances like, 'Smith's speed was remarkable...a rat was like a snail beside Smith.'
His descriptive use of phrase, the twists and turns and metaphors are a delight and are as twisty as the narrow streets and alleyways Smith inhabits.
12-year-old Smith's daily haunts, the atmosphere of the crowded, narrow, putrid streets come alive with brilliant imagery. Colourful images that contain a whiff of the overpowering smells and sounds. Language that gives sight and sound.
Smith's troubles begin when in a narrow lane he picks an elderly gentleman's pocket.
Hearing footsteps he blends back into the shadows and witnesses his mark being stabbed. Murdered! Escaping the scene he discovers that he has, not the valuables he was expecting but some sort of document. And therein lay the rub. Smith cannot read!
Ah, the mystery of the fatal,document leads Smith across the dark streets to new acquaintances, the depths of Newgate Prison, and onto Finchley Common with Lord Tom the highwayman. It's all mad dash and adventure, the tension seesawing from despair and anxiety to determination and hope, underlined by daring and courage.
I must say I had my heart in my mouth and the occasional tear in my eye!
The reread only strengthened my admiration.

A NetGalley ARC ( )
2 vote eyes.2c | Oct 15, 2013 |
SMITH: THE STORY OF A PICKPOCKET by Leon Garfield is an exciting Children's book, The New York Review Children's Collection. Series: A Carnegie Medal Honor Book. Age Level: 9-12. Grade Level: 4-7. With vivid descriptions, charming characters and an engaging story "Smith: The Story of a Pickpocket" makes for an exciting tale of high adventure,and murder. What a great read for a new generation of young readers. Although, readers,both young and old will enjoy this story from the first page to the last. While Mr. Garfield may be long gone his story lives on forever. A treasure for any readers library. What a joy to read!! Received for an honest review from the publisher.
RATING: 4.5
HEAT RATING: NONE(CHILDREN'S)
REVIEWED BY: AprilR, Review courtesy of My Book Addiction and More ( )
  MyBookAddiction | Sep 25, 2013 |
A fantastic read, the story of "Smith" was electrifyingly suspenseful! The flavor of Charles Dickens, with the spirit of Mark Twain, all in a bite-sized portion for tween and teen readers. "Smith" has that intangible, gripping quality beyond a great story and excellent writing, that marks it as a classic: it grabs you by the collar and makes you re-assess fundamental assumptions about life and people. Through a suspenseful, thrilling mystery peopled with unforgettable characters, Smith and those he meets have the opportunity to discover the nature of justice and compassion. I recommend it unconditionally - a permanent classic. ( )
1 vote WetheReaders | Apr 30, 2013 |
This is an absolute delight. Smith is a 12 year old pickpocket in 18th century London whose adventures begin when he steals something that other people want very badly. I only wish I had known of this book when my kids were younger. The slang and accents would have made this great fun to read to them aloud. Although this is a book aimed at young people, it can be thoroughly enjoyed by adults as well. ( )
  maurice | Sep 16, 2012 |
Whoever says this is Dickensian has never read any Dickens. It does not have all that moralizing and social comment. Nor does it have any of the complexity or mystification and labyrinthine plot of the Quincunx. It is a pleasant, rollicking story set in the 18th century, quickly read, about a nimble 12-year old pickpocket who knows the area around St Pauls Cathedral like the inside of his own capacious pockets and who is witness to a crime. In fact it could have been called The Witness. Unfortunately the perpetrator of said crime sees that there is a witness, and that he is in possession of an incriminating document stolen from the pocket of the murdered man. It is exciting and enjoyable, with some nice turns of phrase that sometimes take you by surprise (such as Smith's livestock). ( )
1 vote overthemoon | Mar 2, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Leon Garfieldprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Keith, RonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Maitland, AntonyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374467625, Paperback)

"Leon Garfield is unmatched for sheer, exciting storytelling." --Lloyd Alexander

This brilliant, picaresque novel follows the adventures of an illiterate young ragamuffin known only as Smith. Smith picks the pocket of a stranger, only to witness immediately the strangers murder. Smiths booty from the theft is an Important Document, no doubt worth quite a lot to somebody, which is proved by the pursuit of Smith by two very shady characters. Smith artfully dodges them and winds up in the odd company of a wealthy blind man, who takes Smith into his home and provides him with an education. But this new comfort is lost when Smith himself is suspected of the very murder he witnessed. Smith was a Boston Globe--Horn Book Honor Book, winner of the Phoenix Award, and a Carnegie Honor Book.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:20:16 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A young pickpocket in eighteenth century London takes a document he cannot read from a man's pocket and a moment later sees the man murdered by two men who want the document.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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NYRB Classics

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