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Unexpected Life of Oliver Cromwell Pitts
Alongquin Young Readers, May 2017
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more historical

The Unexpected Life of Oliver Cromwell Pitts:
Being an Absolutely Accurate Autobiographical
Account of My Follies, Fortune, and Fate

High adventure 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.

Within this book you'll find high adventure and short, page-turning chapters with a vivid historical setting featuring a cast of highwaymen, pickpockets, and villainous criminal masterminds

Reviews

Wakening to a terrible storm, 12-year-old Oliver Cromwell Pitts finds his English seaside house flooded and his lawyer father gone off to London, leaving the child bereft, penniless, and facing the unsavory possibility of being remanded to the children's poorhouse. Alas, that is exactly what happens. Happily, circumstances and quick wits allow him to flee the dreadful place, but, his life now in danger, he must escape to London. But how? Because of his escape and the fact that he has, er, borrowed some money, he's wanted by the authorities and must travel secretly, and the road to the capital is long and fraught with danger-there will be no relying on the kindness of strangers. Will he find his way to London? One hopes so, for our hero Oliver is an unusually appealing character, whom we applaud while decrying his enemies, who are deliciously evil, unctuous, and depraved. In using Oliver as his first-person narrator, Avi does a superb job of suggesting the style and syntax of eighteenth-century speech, while telling an ingeniously plotted Dickensian story filled with suspense, surprises, and ultimately satisfaction. It reminds us, who may have forgotten, why reading is such high entertainment and pleasure. Please, sir, may we have some more? (Yes: a sequel is promised.) (Michael Cart, Booklist)

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