After seeing his father hauled off to debtor’s prison, Tom Tin sets out to take revenge on Mr. Goodfellow, the man responsible for his family’s misfortunes. But the fog-filled London streets are teeming with sinister characters. Tom encounters a blind man who scavenges the riverbed for treasure—and wants what Tom digs up; Worms, a body snatcher who reveals a shocking surprise; and a nasty gang of young pickpockets who mistake Tom for someone ominously known as the Smasher. And ultimately, Tom comes up against the cruel hand of the law. Accused of murder, Tom is given a seven-year sentence. He is to be transported to Van Diemen’s Land with other juvenile convicts.
Because her Haitian family is too poor to be able to buy paints for her, eight-year-old Ti Marie finds her own way to create pictures that make the heart sing. Ti Marie dreams of being an artist. Whenever she gets some time away from watching her little sisters and helping Mama in their market stall, she finds a cement wall or a scrap of waste paper and lets her imagination soar. Using whatever she can find to make a mark–bits of red brick, charcoal, white rocks–Ti Marie makes beautiful art. If only she had real paint, brushes, and clean white canvas, what wonderful pictures she could paint then! But Mama says there is no money for such things. Still, Ti Marie finds a surprising way to make her dreams come true.
When seven-year-old Ali’s greedy pet steals cherries from the wicked Sultan for whom his father keeps carrier pigeons, Ali is given three days to find 600 new cherries or his father will be thrown into the deep, dark oubliette. Includes facts about carrier pigeons and the sultan on whom this story is based, as well as an excerpt from “In Praise of Books” by al-Jahiz.