City of Orphans by Avi

City of OrphansMaks is a “newsie” in New York City in 1893. He is selling The World. His parents are Danish immigrants and his family is struggling to make ends meet. Every penny counts. One day Maks is cornered in an alley by a gang of teenagers who are trying to drive off the newsies. Maks decides to fight but is losing when suddenly a shapeless pile of rags becomes an attack force with a stick. When the attack is over, the gang members have been run off and Maks realizes that the person who saved him is a skinny, smelly, raggedly dressed, homeless girl. He decides to take her home for the protection she can give him and also to repay her with a meal. The same day he brings Willa home, he finds out that his oldest sister who works as a maid at the Waldorf has been accused of theft and is in the prison called the Tombs. Thus begins an adventure for the homeless girl and the newsie. They find an odd and ailing detective who has Maks do his investigating for him at the Waldorf. In the process, Maks discovers some clues and also learns something about Willa’s family.

This is an exciting story and a good historical description of life in New York City for immigrant families living in the tenements. Recommended for children in grades 5 and up.

Posted by: Fran W.

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