Parents' Guide to

The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid

By Michael Berry, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Charming, twisty caper about kid pickpockets in France.

Book Colin Meloy Fantasy 2017
The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 12+
I had to write a review after reading another review talking about the pickpocket themes here as a bad influence. Because I think that misses that the real theme in this book is the dangers of peer pressure, which the protagonist, Charlie, struggles with, and ultimately overcomes. This is a serious theme and one teens will likely encounter at some point in their lives, but it's easy to tune out messages about drugs or other common peer-pressure targets because kids hear those themes so much and feel they're already prepared for those dangers (even when they aren't). But by making the subject of the peer pressure something unfamiliar and intriguing, even something romantic on its surface, it's much easier for us as readers to empathize with Charlie's unfortunate choices... which set up his ultimate need for redemption. At the same time, it's similar to real-world temptations that a teen might encounter, where they know it's wrong but can be easily convinced that it's harmless. Does it require a little parental discussion? Perhaps, depending on your young reader. I'd suggest this is an excellent book to foster discussions between parents and children about the risks of peer pressure. In terms of the story itself, being a fan of Wildwood I found myself a little disappointed with the slower pace and lack of expansive scale in the first part of the book, but once you realize that this is more a story about the character's inner journey, it's really delightful, and the second half of the book moves much quicker, along with an excellent climactic encounter. As always, Meloy's narrative voice is engaging (with lots of clever asides, similar to Lemony Snicket but not quite that extreme), and Ellis' drawings are charming. I wish I had known when I started reading that there's a glossary of pickpocket slang at the back of the book! The glossary isn't totally necessary as it's fun learning the confusing language along with Charlie, but sometimes you just want to refresh your memory about a term.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
age 9+

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 a quick search to see the authors interviews on the publishers webpage. The book takes the time to engage children in a way that teaches writing and story development. But does all of this in a story line that also offers lessons in morality. We listened to the audio book and used the text as a sort of read along, this worked beautifully for my children as one is not as confident of a reader.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3):
Kids say (6):

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.

Book Details

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate