Friday, September 4, 2009

Highway Robbery

Written by Kate Thompson
Illustrated by Jonny Duddle and Robert Dress
Most enjoyed by 4th through 8th graders

Our narrator is a young boy living on the streets of London at the turn of the 19th century. Hoping for a coin with which to buy something to eat, he is startled when a magnificent black horse comes charging down the street. As the rider dismounts, he asks the boy to hold the horse until he returns, offering a coin in exchange. The boy willingly agrees to the simple task and there begins the story. Throughout the day and into the evening, folks stop by to admire the horse, some even try to buy it. As the hours tick by, the boy wonders if the mysterious rider will ever return. Could the rider be Dick Turpin, the well-known thief who rides a black horse? When gentlemen come in the middle of the night to steal the horse, the boy must decide where his loyalty lies.

'Highway Robbery' would make an excellent read-aloud. We never find out the boy's name and it really doesn't matter. He's telling us his story as if he is speaking directly to us, the reader. This makes him an interesting character. Are we to believe what he's telling us or not? How reliable is he? His story has an interesting twist at the end that will have you puzzling those very questions. You may even find yourself reading the book over again to look for clues. But that's just fine, because 'Highway Robbery' is the kind of story that can be read over and over.

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