cover image A Bandit’s Tale: The Muddled Misadventures of a Pickpocket

A Bandit’s Tale: The Muddled Misadventures of a Pickpocket

Deborah Hopkinson. Knopf, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-385-75499-6

Rocco Zaccaro, the delightfully earnest narrator of this picaresque novel, never intended to become a “true guttersnipe” on the streets of 1880s New York City. Then again, he never intended to leave Italy until the day his family could no longer afford to care for him. After 11-year-old Rocco is sold into a life of slavery in this strange city, he joins a band of pickpockets to save enough money to break free from his destitute conditions. Rocco’s drive to prove himself and return to Italy steers him into a number of bad decisions, yet his heart guides him to fight injustices against both children and animals on the rough city streets: “As to whether I was good or bad, it should be quite apparent to you by now that I was far too muddled to know.” While Hopkinson (The Great Trouble) covers heavy topics including immigration, child labor, and animal welfare, Rocco’s conversational voice resounds with humor, compassion, and an inspiring energy for change. A dynamic historical novel ideal for both classroom studies and pleasure reading. Ages 8–12. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Apr.)