Freaks

Kieran Larwood. Scholastic/Chicken House, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-545-47424-5
Victorian London gets a little weirder in this fast-paced tale of outcasts serving as champions of the oppressed and underprivileged, which won the 2011 London Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition. Ten-year-old Sheba, better known as the Wolfgirl for her layer of fur and ability to sprout fangs and claws, is an orphan who ends up as part of Plump-scuttle’s Peculiars, a freak show that also stars a teenage ninja, a trash-talking monkey boy, a romance-writing strongman, and a woman who talks to rats. This gang of unlikely heroes gets caught up in a mystery involving missing street urchins, steampunk monstrosities, and a fiendish set of villains. Newcomer Larwood spins a whimsical yet touching story, injecting the unpleasant reality of Victorian-era poverty with a touch of humor and fantastical elements, making for an enjoyable and none-too-serious adventure. A good deal goes unexplained, meant to be taken at face value (such as Sheba or Monkeyboy’s animal natures), but the weird and serious sides of the story balance each other nicely. Ages 10–14. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/04/2013
Release date: 03/01/2013
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 243 pages - 978-1-906427-93-1
Hardcover - 223 pages - 978-0-545-47425-2
MP3 CD - 978-1-5318-7600-5
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