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A Kid for Two Farthings
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A Kid for Two Farthings

3.31 of 5 stars 3.31  ·  rating details  ·  91 ratings  ·  22 reviews
A six-year-old boy in the British immigrant community of Whitechapel believes he has discovered a unicorn for sale at the market. Though it looks to most people like a white goat with a bump on its head, young Joe is certain it will make the dreams of his friends and neighbors come true—a reunion with his father in Africa, a steam press for a tailor shop, a ring for a girl ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published December 22nd 2009 by Bloomsbury USA (first published 1953)
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Unknown Fantasy Classics
116th out of 135 books — 54 voters
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The Bloomsbury Group Collection
7th out of 10 books — 2 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 217)
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K.
Jan 06, 2015 K. rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: language lovers
Transporting. Really. Fascinated by the idea and the time-period and the cast of characters (and that it was in the bargain bin at Amazon) I ordered myself this little book as an experiment.

I've now read two Bloomsbury Group books (a special division of Bloomsbury publications "Launched in 2009, The Bloomsbury Group continues the company's tradition of publishing books with perennial, word-of-mouth appeal. This series celebrates lost classics written by both men and women from the early twentiet
...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
I can still hear these people talk; the characters are that real. It’s a street in London, but it could be a street in NYC in the middle of the last century. Six-year-old Joe finds a unicorn for sale and he buys him in the hopes that the unicorn can satisfy some wishes. I like how this all works out in a way that is both fantastical and realistic.
Don
A vignette of life in London’s East End, centred on the district around Brick Lane and Whitechapel, in the 1950s. At that time the predominant ethnic culture was that of the Yiddish-speaking East European Jewish migrants. But by this date the evidence of its steady integration into the Anglo-Saxon mainstream was to be seen in the style and manners of the rising generation of the British-born. The old language was being reduced to the elderly men and women conversing in the markets, the tailors’ ...more
Sylvester
One of those books not-quite-for-children, yet from the perspective of a child - which is an odd thing, when you think about it. I loved the pacing of this book, very measured and natural. There is very little embellishment in the writing style, and yet it is strong and assured. I love Joe and his circle of friends. This is a simple, moving story of the beauty of a hopeful imagination (which is how I might define childhood -?), and those who nurture it.
Lisa
I have no idea where I picked this up (likely some used book sale) but I am pretty sure I thought it was a children's book. And it isn't, but rather a charming novella told from the perspective of 6-year-old Joe, a boy living above a tailor's shop in 1950s East End London. Joe's father has gone to Africa to try to make a living in business there, his mother works for a milliner, Mr Kandinsky, the tailor and his unofficial babysitter, teaches Joe just about everything, and Joe hopes to find a uni ...more
Zuberino
A charming little story of life in the Jewish East End, and an excellent companion piece to Litvinoff's Journey Through A Small Planet. That these familiar places - Brick Lane and Whitechapel and Stepney and Mile End - have changed out of all recognition is testament to the harsh passage of time. Today we have ISIS flags flying in Poplar instead! All that is left of that vanished world of East European Jewry is what the likes of Mankowitz have left us. To read about the boy Joe's walk down the p ...more
First Second Books
If you like light novels from the early twentieth century, try out the books in The Bloomsbury Group (published, of course, by Bloomsbury). Not only are they well-selected, but the design is adorable! This one features a six year-old boy who buys himself a unicorn. Hijinx promptly ensue.
Nicola Mansfield
Reason for Reading: I love early 20th century British lit. and I'm enchanted by the entire line of The Bloomsbury Group reprints.

Summary: Joe is six years old, lives on a street near Whitechapel which seems to be the Jewish quarter. Joe and his mother live in a room above Mr. Kadinsky's tailor shop; he is a trousers maker and his assistant Shmule is a young engaged pugilist training to work his way through the ranks to becoming a champion. Joe's father has gone to Africa to make a life for them
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Bee Ridgway
This is not a children's novel, but it is written mostly from a child's perspective, and while it is a gentle story it is neither tender nor nostalgic. A 6-year-old boy growing up in Whitechapel before WW2, in the Jewish community. The little boy is best friends with the old tailor whose shop is downstairs from the flat where he lives with his mother -- the missing father is returned to in the boy's memory as a soft sort of longing -- and he spends many hours with the old tailor and his clients. ...more
Jennifer
Wolf Mankowitz captures the innocence of childhood without dramatizing or sentimentalizing it. He also captures life in the East End of London, where he himself grew up, at a point when poverty of means was not accompanied by poverty of spirit.

A slim volume, with only the dramas of everyday life, A Kid for Two Farthings is life seen by Joe, the year before he is enrolled in school. Joe's world is still populated primarily by adults, each with their own dreams and troubles, but rarely too troubl
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Adam
[2012 blurb] I've never found a book that was more like... a kitten. It comes at you with wide-eyed affection and a singleminded determination to snuggle down on your lap and purr. Mankowitz tells a robustly sentimental story in which the wonder of childhood meets harsh reality and comes through intact because it's been cautiously protected, preserved.

[2010 blurb] This is an utterly cozy little novel about a young boy living with his mother in London's East End while his father is away seeking h
...more
Nancy
This is the first book I have read from The Bloomsbury Group, which is publishing "lost classics" from the early 20th century; I am charmed by the fact that the Bloomsbury Group bases publishing decisions on reader recommendations.

This is a gentle little novel about a small boy who needs a miracle, and decides that a deformed baby goat is really a unicorn, with full wish-granting capabilities. Little Joe lives in poverty in the East End of London, and Mankowitz does not pretend that life is a f
...more
ReaderSP
I'm not how I came across this book but it was a perfect size for my handbag!
The story follows six year old Joe who is living in the East End of London with his Mother. His Father is away in Africa and Joe and his Mother miss him desperately. The other character in the book is Mr Kandinsky. He works in the building and takes Joe under his wing. The main storyline follows Joe as he buys himself a unicorn, after several unsuccessful attempts to raise chicks. Mr Kandinsky helps Joe look after the u
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Sheena Wilkins
Charming yet unsentimental story of a1950s working class community around a market in Whitechapel, East London. Young Joe has learnt about Unicorns from his neighbour downstairs, Mr Kandinsky, and he's seen one in the market. He hopes the Unicorn will bring the good fortune he and his mum need to be able to join his dad in Africa. And Mr Kandinsky needs a new steam press. All his friends and neighbours could use s little luck, but will the Unicorn come through for them?
Amanda Allen
This is a sweet little book told from the perspective of a little boy whose experiencing a mostly adult life. The Cannibal King and the utter belief in unicorns is delightful. This was a lovely story, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. But it was lovely in the non-gripping way a sweet little story is. I could have put it down and not picked it up for a week without wondering what would happen. But when it all ended, I had a little sniffle in my eye.
Christy
To Joe, a six-year-old living in the dreary post-war slums of London's East End, a wish-granting unicorn is the perfect solution to his father's absence, his mother's tired loneliness, Mr. Kandinsky's lagging tailor shop business, and Shmule's uncertain boxing match. But will it be enough? Mankowitz clearly remembers what it is like to be an imaginative boy left to his own devices.
Miriam
I liked many things about this book, including the setting, the characterization, and the way the author gives us a kid's-eye view while not sugar-coating the realities of life in their neighborhood. I also liked how it shows the interconnectedness of the characters. Definitely a book I would read again.
P_campbe
I really liked this book and am excited to read more from Wolf Mankowitz. I found myself laughing to myself and wishing I had a fancy steam press too
Jeanette
It took me 3 weeks to read a book that is only 128 pages long and has fairly large print.
That speaks volumes about how much I enjoyed the book.
J Yi
soft and gentle read, bedtime story for adults. loved it!
Marya
Very unusual.
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Wolf Mankowitz was an English novelist and playwright.
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