The Unexpected Life of Oliver Cromwell Pitts by AVI
Age Range: 9 – 13 years | Grade Level: 4 – 8 | Hardcover: 304 pages | Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers (May 16, 2017)
About the Book
High adventure from a master storyteller about one boy’s attempt to fend for himself among cruel orphan masters, corrupt magistrates, and conniving thieves.
In the seaside town of Melcombe Regis, England, 1724, Oliver Cromwell Pitts wakes to find his father missing and his house flooded by a recent storm. He’s alone in his ruined home with no money and no food. Oliver’s father has left behind a barely legible waterlogged note: he’s gone to London, where Oliver’s sister, Charity, is in trouble. Exploring damage to the town in the storm’s aftermath, Oliver discovers a shipwreck on the beach. Removing anything from a wrecked ship is a hanging offense, but Oliver finds money that could save him, and he can’t resist the temptation to take it. When his crime is discovered, Oliver flees, following the trail of his father and sister. The journey is full of thieves, adventurers, and treachery–and London might be the most dangerous place of all.
In the tradition of his Newbery Honor book The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Avi mixes high adventure and short, page-turning chapters with a vivid historical setting featuring a cast of highwaymen, pickpockets, and villainous criminal masterminds.
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My Thoughts on The Unexpected Life of Oliver Cromwell Pitts
AVI is one of my favorite middle-grade authors. When I pick up one of his books, I fully expect to be whisked away on an adventure that I can’t put down. I haven’t been disappointed yet.
When The Unexpected Life of Oliver Cromwell Pitts showed up on my doorstep, I was thrilled. A new book from AVI and I couldn’t wait to jump into it.
It’s about Oliver, who wakes up during a terrible storm to find his father gone, an empty pantry, and an empty money box. In desperation, he steals some money from a shipwreck. By doing so, he starts on a downward spiral into a life of crime. As he searches for his father and older sister, Charity, he’s pulled helplessly along by his situation and the designs of others until he’s in too deep to get out.
I love the way AVI builds momentum. Once you start reading this book, there’s no stopping. It’s completely engaging. As the reader, you watch helplessly as Oliver gets sucked deeper and deeper into his life of crime.
I loved how the author used a “voice” that felt realistic to the time period, yet still highly readable and engaging. The characters feel true to life — like they could have been real people.
My one complaint is that I have to wait so long for the next book!
This book is definitely going on my “to read again” shelf. I’m also passing it along to my daughter. She’ll love it.
This is a historical fiction novel set in England. It will appeal to kids ages 8-12 who enjoy adventure, thieves, and unexpected plot twists.
Cover talk: I admit, I’m not crazy about this cover. The illustration itself is fine, but the title design makes the book look like a self-published horror novel. When I first saw it, I thought it was going to be a ghost story.
Content: Cruelty and thievery.
Source: The publisher sent me this book for review consideration.
1 winner will receive a print ARC of The Unexpected Life of Oliver Cromwell Pitts
Open to US addresses only
Ends May 31, 2017
Use the Rafflectoper to enter. Entrants must be 18 or older or have their parent/guardian enter for them. The winner will be chosen randomly. Winner must respond to my email within 48 hours or a new winner will be chosen. No purchase necessary to enter. I am not responsible for lost or undelivered prizes. This contest is void where prohibited by law.
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