The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid Book Poster Image
Charming, twisty caper about kid pickpockets in France.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 5 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid is packed with information about the French port of Marseille and about the slang vocabulary of its criminals in the early 1960s. It also uses sophisticated vocabulary, such as "ennui" (which is defined), and the funny, snarky narrator (à la Lemony Snicket) has many interjections and asides, including one about the nature of translation from French to English.

Positive Messages

A life of crime may seem fun and romantic, but it often leads to heartbreak.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Charlie has a hard time making friends, and when he moves to Marseille, he's fascinated by a young pickpocket named Amir. Charlie wants to be a thief, but he is a little too kindhearted. Gradually, he learns lessons about honesty and integrity.

Violence & Scariness

Charlie and Amir have a fistfight, in which neither is seriously hurt.


"Jesus" is used as an exclamation once or twice.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid is a stand-alone novel about young pickpockets in 1961 Marseille, France, written by Colin Meloy and illustrated by Carson Ellis, the team that created the Wildwood series. While it at first seems to romanticize a life of petty crime, the book eventually makes the case for honesty and integrity. Violence is limited to a fistfight between friends. Teens drink champagne at a party.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byLisa Tullis W. June 1, 2018

They won't put it down!

This little book came to us because the author is part of band I have listened to for ages. The creative ideas that spawned the story are really rather fun, do... Continue reading
Parent Written byM A March 12, 2018

Inspires theft and mischief -- Parents Beware!

This book inspired my son to steal items from students at his school. (He had never done that before reading this book).

Within days of finishing this book, m... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old February 24, 2018

An unputdownable story from a remarkable author

The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid is amazing! I finished it in maybe a little less than a week and I just could not stop reading! Colin Meloy’s newest work wil... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old October 15, 2020

Really Intriguing Book

It’s fun, has positive messages, and is an extremely interesting book. The book is based in 1961 Marseille, France and tells the story of 12-year-old Charlie Fi... Continue reading

What's the story?

As THE WHIZ MOB AND THE GRENADINE KID opens, it's 1961 and 12-year-old Charlie Fisher arrives in Marseille as an American diplomat's son, financially well-off but unsure how to make friends. After he meets a friendly thief named Amir, he's welcomed into a secret band of pickpockets who claim to steal only from those who can afford it. Charlie becomes obsessed with learning how to fleece the unsuspecting and starts doing bigger capers -- until he makes a terrible discovery that changes his understanding of everything that has happened to him in Marseille.

Is it any good?

There are few things as enjoyable as a good caper, and this heist novel set in France contains all the elements of the genre. With The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid, author Colin Meloy sets up a tricky premise and lures readers into a trap of intricate design. Charlie and his fellow thieves are a colorful group of well-defined characters, and their use of slang adds to their individuality. Carson Ellis' illustrations sustain the note of comedy that runs through the story.

Even the most attentive reader is unlikely to foresee all of the plot's many surprises, and the ending is perfect.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the depiction of child pickpockets in The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid. Do you think their portrayal is realistic? How might the fictional thieves differ from real-life ones?

  • Charlie's diplomat father desperately wants him to attend upper-class social events. Why do parents sometimes insist that their kids participate in activities they don't enjoy?

  • What lessons about honesty and integrity does Charlie learn from the Mob? What makes him give in to their manipulations so easily?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love mysteries and historical fiction

Themes & Topics

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