The streets of 1893 New York are full of life: crowded, filthy, dangerous. If you are a newsboy like thirteen-year-old Maks Geless, you need to watch out for Bruno, leader of the Plug Ugly Gang whose shadowy, sinister boss is plotting to take control of all the newsies on the lower East Side. With Brunos boys in fierce pursuit, Maks discovers Willa, a strange girl who lives alone in an alley. It is she, stick in hand, who fights off the Plug Uglies--but further dangers await. Maks must find a way to free his sister Emma from The Tombs, the city jail where she has been imprisoned for stealing a watch at the glamorous new Waldorf Hotel. Maks, believing her innocent, has only four days to prove it. Fortunately, there is Bartleby Donck, the eccentric lawyer (among other employments) to guide Maks and Willa in the art of detection.
Against a backdrop alive with the sights and sounds of tenement New York, Maks, as boy detective, must confront a teeming world of wealth and crime, while struggling against powerful forces threatening new immigrants and the fabric of family love.
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"Starred Review. Heroic deeds, narrow escapes, dastardly villains, amazing coincidences and a family rich in love and hope are all part of an intricate and endlessly entertaining adventure. Terrific! Ages 10-14." - Kirkus Reviews
"[A] terrifically exciting read, with Ruths fine pencil portraits adding to the overall appeal. Ages 10 14." - Publishers Weekly
"Starred Review. Avi writes in an immediate, third-person, present-tense voice, mostly from Maks' colloquial viewpoint, with occasional switches to Willa and to the young gangster leader. Grades 5-8." - Booklist
"The narrative wraps up, like a gangster movie, with a shoot-out at the Waldorf. An author's note grounds the tale in history...Ruth contributes several fine pencil sketches of the main characters, placing them nicely in their environments." - School Library Journal
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Apparently Avi acquired his name from his twin sister, Emily, who chose not to call him Edward or Irvin but, for reasons unknown, to call him Avi. As the author says, it doesn't stand for anything, or mean anything, it just is who he is.
Avi is the author of more than sixty books, including Crispin: The Cross of Lead, a Newbery Medal winner, and Crispin: At the Edge of the World. His other acclaimed titles include The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle and Nothing But the Truth, both Newbery Honor Books, and most recently The Seer of Shadows. He lives with his family in Colorado.
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