cover image Young Nick and Jubilee

Young Nick and Jubilee

Leon Garfield. Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, $13.95 (134pp) ISBN 978-0-385-29777-6

Nick and his little sister Jubilee live in a cave in London's St. James Park. Nick has taken responsibility for providing Jubilee with a dowry large enough to attract a fine husband--no small feat for a penniless youth who is often unsure where his next meal will come from. When he hears of a 50 reward for the return of a stolen pocket watch, Nick resolves to find the thief. In the course of his search Nick learns about the Blewcoat School, a charity school. Believing that a sister with an education would be almost as marriageable as one with 50, Nick enrolls both Jubilee and himself. Since the school does not accept orphans, the children must find a father, and they hook up with the disreputable but kindly Mr. Owen, whom Nick suspects of stealing the pocket watch. At first the arrangement is merely convenient, but a dramatic turn of events reveals the strength of their commitment to one another. This gentle story is nicely told, and includes characters who are, if not memorable, certainly likable. But it lacks the urgency that marks great storytelling; readers are likely to amble, rather than race, to the novel's end. Ages 10-14. (Sept.)