Review Blog

Jan 11 2012

The Adventures of the New Cut Gang by Philip Pullman

cover image

Random House, 2011. (David Fickling Books). ISBN 9780857560223.
Whenever I think of Philip Pullman it is impossible not to remember His Dark Materials series, especially the most well known, Northern Lights, so I had completely the wrong idea about The Adventures of the New Cut Gang. These are light hearted funny tales about a gang of six children in late Victorian England, who spend a lot of their time on the streets of London's east end, thinking up adventures and solving mysteries.
Philip Pullman commented on his website that he was going to write six stories about the gang but only two have developed at this stage and he considers them the most favourite of all his work.
Thunderbolt's Waxwork describes how the children first play detective, trying to track down the culprit behind a spate of counterfeit coins being spread in their community. Gang member Thunderbolt is upset because his Dad has been arrested, so the children want to find the person behind the crime and get his Dad released from prison. The scene in the store when the children convince an adult friend to be a store dummy is laugh out loud humour.
The Gas-Fitter's Ball has the gang tracking down the burglar who has stolen the Gas-Fitters' silver trophies. The gang want to beat the police in solving the crime. Benny's use of disguise is another hilarious scene.
It's hard not to love the very different mixture of gang members. Benny is the leader and we get to hear his outlandish plans and dreams. Thunderbolt the thinker, has a great relationship with his Dad, hot headed Bridie, whose heart is in the right place and her little brother Sharky Bob, with horrifying eating habits. The Peretti twins may look angelic but no one ever wants to get on their bad side.
There is use of English slang and idioms that may take a while for Australian readers to get used to but it is well worth the effort.
This would be a great read for 10 to 13 year olds.
Jane Moore

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