Smith: The Story of a Pickpocket

Leon Garfield (Author)


A Carnegie Medal Honor Book

Twelve-year-old Smith is a denizen of the mean streets of eighteenth-century London, living hand to mouth by virtue of wit and pluck. One day he trails an old gentleman with a bulging pocket, deftly picks it, and as footsteps ring out from the alley by which he had planned to make his escape, finds himself in a tough spot. Taking refuge in a doorway, he sees two men emerge to murder the man who was his mark. They rifle the dead man's pockets and finding them empty, depart in a rage. Smith, terrified, flees the scene of the crime. What has he stolen that is worth the life of a man?

Smith is a gripping, engrossing, and utterly diverting tale of high adventure related by a writer whose scintillating style is matched only by the dazzle of his plotting. In the words of Lloyd Alexander, "Garfield is unmatched for sheer exciting storytelling. The reader simply can't stop reading him."

Product Details

New York Review of Books
Publish Date
October 15, 2013
5.54 X 0.78 X 8.8 inches | 0.88 pounds
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About the Author

Leon Garfield (1921-1996) was born and raised in the seaside town of Brighton, England. his father owned a series of businesses, and the family's fortunes fluctuated wildly. Garfield enrolled in art school, left to work in an office, and in 1940 was drafted into the army, serving in the medical corps. After the war, he returned to London and worked as a biochemical technician. in 1948 he married Vivian Alcock, an artist who would later become a successful writer of children's books, and it was she who encouraged him to write his first novel, Jack Holborn, which was published in 1964. in all, Garfield would write some fifty books, including a continuation of Charles Dickens's Mystery of Edwin Drood and retellings of biblical and Shakespearian stories. Among his best-known books are Devil-in-the-Fog (1966, winner of The Guardian Children's Fiction Prize), The God Beneath the Sea (1970, winner of the Carnegie medal), Bostock and Harris; or, The Night of the Comet (1979; forthcoming from The New York Review Children's Collection), and John Diamond (1980, winner of the Whitbread Award).


Winner of the Phoenix Award
A Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor Book

"Leon Garfield is unmatched for sheer exciting storytelling. The reader simply can't stop reading him." --Lloyd Alexander

"It is a fine thing that Leon Garfield's rip-roaring and funny tales should be brought back into circulation for a new generation of readers." --Joan Aiken

"Smith is one of the most interesting children's books of the year--not only as a period tale, though in this respect it is superb, but also for the strong yet tender comment on the way people feel, now, then, and always." --The Christian Science Monitor

"I like to think that maybe a child of today--who was like the child I was yesterday (and millions of others like me)--will remember the first reading of Smith years from now and say: Yes, that's the book that opened windows and doors for me, the pivotal book of my childhood." --Robert Cormier

"Vivid characters, imagery, and atmosphere combine to make this a distinguished book for casual reading or for study." --English Journal