This is my favorite book in the world, maybe due to the fact that I myself am Italian and the book is set in the most magical city in the world (it teaches alot about Venice, its history and myths, and the customs and traditions of the people that live there). The characters are wonderful and well structured, and Prosper takes care of his little brother Bo like any father would. Scipio (my favorite character in ANY book), even though he is really the son of a very wealthy Dottore (doctor), does whatever he can to help the orphaned street kids. Victor (another one of my favorites), the kindhearted detective who is hired to find Prosper and Bo, agrees to help the kids after learning about their Aunt Esther's cruel intentions to split the brothers up. There are plenty of negative characters, and the kids do steal, but this is understandable considering that they have no other options (they also later kidnap Victor under circumstances that I can't explain here without giving away the whole book; however they are not unkind to him).
There is a lot of fighting, and Ida Spavento, the kind lady who later takes the orphans in after a series of complicated events, smokes a lot and there is a passing mention or two of alcahol. The book also has a slightly eerie feel to it, and there are quite a few very creepy scenes in it. However it is a wonderful book about friendship, family, and helping others even under dangerous circumstances. MY FAVORITE BOOK EVER!!!!!!