The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid
By Michael Berry,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Charming, twisty caper about kid pickpockets in France.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
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.
A life of crime may seem fun and romantic, but it often leads to heartbreak.
Positive Role Models
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.
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"Jesus" is used as an exclamation once or twice.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens in the Whiz Mob drink champagne at a party.
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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.
Where to Read
Based on 3 parent reviews
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They won't put it down!
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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?
- Author: Colin Meloy
- Illustrator: Carson Ellis
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, History, Middle School
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Balzer + Bray
- Publication date: October 24, 2017
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 432
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: November 21, 2017
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