Smith 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 Smi

  • Title: Smith
  • Author: Leon Garfield
  • ISBN: 9780374467623
  • Page: 206
  • Format: Paperback
  • 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 artfulThis 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.

    928 Comment

    • Leah says:

      Stand and deliver…"A rat was like a snail beside Smith, and the most his thousand victims ever got of him was the powerful whiff of his passing and a cold draught in their dexterously emptied pockets."Smith is a twelve-year old pickpocket surviving by his wits in the London of the 18th century. But one day Smith picks the pocket of an elderly man and as he runs away, he sees the man being attacked and killed. Running for fear that he will be caught and accused of this much worse crime, Smith h [...]

    • Jenny says:

      It is too bad that I didn't know about this book when my son was young, I think he would have enjoyed it. Smith is a twelve year old London urchin obtains a mysterious document and witnesses a murder. He learns to read, finds out who his real friends are and discovers what the document says while teaching a blind judge something about justice.

    • Catherine Austen says:

      Loved it. Gripping mystery, lively history, likeable complicated young hero. Set in dreary old London, with lots of poverty and crime, and every word builds the scene and captures the mood. It's fun to read aloud - the words feel good on the tongue - but young readers might huddle over it quietly, whipping through the pages, eager to know what happens next. A modern classic.

    • Bea says:

      It's just a book but it made me smell, taste and live in Victorian London. We've just done a bit of Dickens at school and this was a similar but more straight forward read.

    • Tracey says:

      A good story in Dickensian style. Highly recommend

    • Todd Stockslager says:

      Review Title: Small classicImagine a 12 year old boy who picks pockets for a living in Dickens's London of ill weather, low haunts, and upper class society all sharing the same crowded streets of the City. Seconds after picking the pocket of his latest victim, he ducks into a side alley and overhears the brutal murder of the man, by a pair of brown-suited thugs in search of something the man no longer has. Smith, the young pickpocket, realizes he has just stolen the thing which the grown men wer [...]

    • J.A. Kahn says:

      Read this at school. It is a wonderful story, heart-warming and funny. Follow Smith, the pickpocket, as he scrapes along the edge of life.

    • Catherine says:

      The great strength of this book is that it has a real 'whodunnit' plot tied up with crooked lawyers, highwaymen and secrets from the past. Set in nineteenth century London, there is quite a lot of unpacking to do with confident upper KS2 readers both in terms of the conventions of the age but also in the way in which Garfield writes which is so different to the way in which children's books are written today (first published 1967). 12 year old Smith inadvertently witnesses the murder of someone [...]

    • R.R. Stone says:

      A story that left an everlasting imprint! Some good things are just imprinted on your mind.I read the first chapter of the book as a part of my course, when I was six or seven . The image of a pickpocket, the old suburbs of London, and the whole notion of romanticism of the past really captivated my mind. I always wondered what happened after the first chapter. What happened to Smith? Did he meet a good end?Over time I even forgot the name of the book. I just remembered that it was about a pickp [...]

    • Nilakshi Bandara says:

      ධෛර්යය හා අධිෂ්ඨානය එක ලෙස කැටි කොට ගත් පුංචි ස්මිත් දැන ගන්නා ලියවිල්ලෙහි වූ රහස කුමක්ද???මෙය පරිවර්තන කෘතියකි. ගැට කපන පුංචා නමින් සිංහලයට පරිවර්තනය වූ යේ ලියොන් ගාර්ෆීල්ඩ් විසින් රචිත ස් [...]

    • Jennifer says:

      Excellent book. Kept me entertained and wanting to read more. I like that it touches on the horrors of the time without making them overly gruesome. Excellent for preteens.

    • Janet says:


    • ʂɔσʋʈ says:


    • Jane Wilson-Howarth says:

      Brilliant, atmospheric and gripping

    • eyes.2c says:

      Murder, betrayal and daringGarfield 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 malnour [...]

    • Liviania says:

      I'll read almost anything from NYRB; they're a terrific publisher. Not too much of a surprise considering they mostly cherry-pick backlists. The latest release in their children's collection is SMITH: THE STORY OF A PICKPOCKET, a Carnegie Medal Honor book. Originally published in 1967, it is set back in the eighteenth century. It's a little like Dickens for kids, except unlike A CHRISTMAS CAROL it isn't totally boring. (I love Dickens, but A CHRISTMAS CAROL is a total slog.) Smith is young, dirt [...]

    • TOM says:

      Smith follows the ups and downs of a Dickensian set of tatterdemalion rag bag characters, and their interactions with the upper echelons of the city of London, through the appearance, concealment and disappearance of a mysterious document, which is taken by the protagonist (Smith - after which the book is named) following a murder he has witnessed, as he believes it will find him great riches.Garfield seemed to get entangled in his own plot slightly, I found it difficult to work out quite what w [...]

    • Lisa(Bookworm Lisa) says:

      I am very happy that The New York Review is taking classic books and giving them another opportunity to be introduced to a new generation of readers. The books are beautiful. Smith is twelve and living in eighteenth century London. He is a pickpocket. He is quick and hard to catch. He takes pleasure in his skill and stealth.One day his picks his mark and empties the older man's pockets. Immediately the man is set upon by two men wearing brown, he is killed and his body searched. The killers did [...]

    • Jennifer says:

      This was a fun mystery/adventure book. Some people might find the way the characters' accents were written tedious, but I enjoyed it. There was some droll, subtle humor and a few tender moments too. I'll have to look for more by this author.

    • Kristi Bernard says:

      Smith was a twelve-year-old who during his time had survived smallpox, the consumption, brain-fever, jail-fever and even the hangman's rope. You see, Smith was a pickpocket, and he was the best, that is as far as pickpockets go. Each night he slithered and crept the streets looking for unwary victims. One particular chilly night an older gentleman caught Smith's eye. He cleverly brushed up against the man and was successful in lifting something from his pockets, but it wasn't money. Right after, [...]

    • Sarah says:

      I picked this book because it was part of the New York Review Children's book collection. I knew they were bringing back books that were out of print but should or could be considered classics. My kids and I have enjoyed many of the books the NYR has chosed so figured this one would be good as well. As I read this book of Smith, a 12 year old pick pocket, I couldn't help but think it was the plot of Oliver Twist but with a lot less description and far fewer characters to keep track of. This may [...]

    • Kai Herrero says:

      WARNING CONTAINS SPOILERSSmith by Leon Garfield is and exciting novel about a young man named smith. Smith is a 12-year-old pickpocket set in a Victorian London esque town. After pickpocketing an elderly man Smith runs to the street in hopes to find a getaway route, but is instead is trapped. He whirls around expecting to find his victim but instead witnesses the elderly man getting murdered by two other men. Smith terrified and watching from the shadows watches the two men plunder the body with [...]

    • Lynda says:

      This edition is a charming little book that is most tastefully illustrated. Smith is a young boy who lives in appalling squalor and poverty in 17th-18th century London, who has a strong desire to improve his lot and that of his sisters. Although he's no saint, he does have lovely qualities such as pluck, sharp wits, quick learning, loyalty and good cheer which inspire strong friendships from a diverse range of people from a magistrate to a highwayman and a raft of people in between. There are so [...]

    • Marie-Pier Paré-Ruel says:

      Charming.I thought comparisons to Huckleberry Finn and Oliver Twist were a lot of pressure to put on a writer et his ''children'' story. However, it's not as far-fetched as I believed it would be. The atmosphere, somewhere between the gloomy alleys of England's towns and the beauty of it's high districts, is crisp, vivid and never dims, even when the story slows down, giving us time to ponder about what's really happening to Smith.Garfield depicts the quick and talented Smith in such a way that [...]

    • Anne says:

      "Smith had a turn of speed that was remarkable, and a neatness in nipping down an alley or vanishing in a court that had to be seen to be believed. Not that it was often seen, for Smith was rather a sooty spirit of the violent and ramshackle Town, and inhabited the tumbledown mazes about fat St. Paul's like the subtle air itself.""For, though he was quicker than a rat, sharper than a stoat, foxier than a fox, though he knew the Town's corners and alleys and courts and by-ways better than he knew [...]

    • arjuna says:

      One of my all-time, lifelong favourite books - Smith, his sisters, and Miss Mansfield in particular are so beautifully drawn - sharply, with humour, not unsympathetic but not completely forgivingly - that they leap off the page and into your heart; you end up feeling the story's been part of you forever. Mansfield and Lord Tom are less rounded to the adult reader, but they are peculiarly human and memorable nonetheless, and the supporting cast is as vivid and vibrant as the environment, landscap [...]

    • Pamela says:

      I feel rather sad upon finishing Smith. I don't know if it's me, or the book itself, or perhaps a bit of both, but I feel disappointed. I read an ARC (provided by NetGalley and the publisher, all opinions herein are my own, etc. etc.) of the new copy being published, which has quite a lovely cover, by the way, and I feel like I was supposed to be more moved (or something) than I was.The language was often very beautiful, but I don't think I sympathized with any of Garfield's characters. Perhaps [...]

    • Christine Ditzel says:

      Smith is an illiterate pickpocket who picks the pocket of a man right before he is murdered. Why was he murdered? For the very document now in Smith’s hands.Smith is a really good and realistic historical fiction book that focuses completely on fictional characters rather than fictional versions of historical figures. The language and imagery completely immerse you in 18th century London from the very first pages. The characters have different and authentic dialects, and talk about real issues [...]

    • Martin Sidgreaves says:

      This is a book I can remember reading & enjoying on holiday when I was a child and I was keen to revisit it. Leon Garfield had the real talent of being able to truly convey atmosphere in his books and no where more than in 'Smith' where you quickly find yourself transported back to London in the 1700's.Without giving away too much of the plot, the story follows the hard life of Smith, a twelve year old who ekes out his living as a pickpocket on the grim streets of 18th century London. He liv [...]

    • My Book Addiction and More MBA says:

      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 l [...]

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