#85 – Burglar Boy by Jackie Martin

 5 Stars

Not your typical black-hearted burglar, Dean is a neglected eleven-year-old, encouraged to steal by his older brother in a secret life of crime. Then one day, during a break-in, Dean meets someone who makes his adventures take a whole new direction.

Dean Fogarty has a rough life.  His single mother is an alcoholic who cannot keep a job, his older brother Callum expects Dean to steal for him while he gets himself deeper and deeper into criminal activities, and Dean has no one to guide him through daily life, let alone a male role model.

Dean has robbed enough homes that he can tell you what is inside every home on his street and the next one over.  He is nimble, quick and small, all of which help him “succeed” as a burglar.  Dean does not attend school regularly and when he does, he is only trying to keep a social worker at bay.  Dean tries hard to please his teacher, Miss Duran.  Most of the kids make fun of him and think he is stupid.

I like this story.  Dean is a rough kid who lives in a rundown, tough neighborhood.  He really has no one to guide him, and no real friends.  Dean is the kid who ends up in juvenile hall and later adult jail.  He is the one who falls through the cracks.  Dean wants to be just like his older brother, who is getting deeper and deeper into a criminal lifestyle.

I liked the many layers in the story.  It is a hard thing to explain without going on for several pages.  I know because I have written and erased more than a few paragraphs.  Burglar Boy is one of those stories that grabbed me and never let go.  I want to know what Dean is like years from now.  I suppose he can be whatever I’d like him to be.

Dean has a defining moment when he meets Mary, and then Flo and Monty.  He starts to make better choices, even when Mary’s husband George makes it clear he would rather Dean never return.  Dean is that loner who is not a loner by choice.  He does not know how to make, or be, a friend.  He is defensive with thick shields to protect him from more pain.  All of this makes Dean different and strange to other kids, and sometimes adults.  George is reacting to the outer Dean just like the other sixth graders in Dean’s class.


Sue’s birthday is today

It was difficult to put this book down.  With only 176 pages, it is easy to read in one day, or even in one reading, but I usually do not do that–unless the story drags me in.  This one did just that.  Maybe this story resonated with me because I was a social worker and the story line could have been any number of kids I knew.  Nah, Burglar Boy is simply a fantastic story.

This has no bearing on the story, but I want to make one note.  Burglar Boy is written in British English.  There are a few differences, such as (U.K.—U.S.) spoilt—spoiled, cooker—stove, smelt—smelled, quid—dollar, nits—lice and flat—apartment.  This will not affect a kid’s enjoyment of the story and it just might make her stop and pick up a dictionary (or find one on the Internet).   I think that is a good thing.  Burglar Boy is a great read for boys and girls (and adults, too).

Burglar Boy

Author: Jackie Martin
Publisher: Nightingale Books
Publication Date: May 26, 2011  
Number of Pages: 176
ISBN: 978-1-9075-5214-4


3 thoughts on “#85 – Burglar Boy by Jackie Martin

  1. This book sounds extremely interesting. The review definitely makes me think it would be a good book to read my nephew, my children are just a little too young for this story. I might get two copies one for my nephew and one my kids future reads pile that I have stashed away.


    • Welcome to Kid Lit. I think your comment just made an author very happy. It is always nice to see new faces and read new voices. Your boys will love this book. It is a good one for them. It is too bad there are not more good books for boys. This one the author brought to me and I was so glad. Please let us know what your nephew thinks after he reads the book.


  2. Pingback: Titanic: Disaster at Sea by Philip Wilkinson « Kid Lit Reviews

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