Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Kid for Two Farthings” as Want to Read:
A Kid for Two Farthings
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Kid for Two Farthings

3.38  ·  Rating Details ·  121 Ratings  ·  23 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)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Kid for Two Farthings, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about A Kid for Two Farthings

The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonaldThe Little White Horse by Elizabeth GoudgeThe Twenty-One Balloons by William Pène du BoisThe Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonaldFarmer Giles of Ham by J.R.R. Tolkien
Unknown Fantasy Classics
120th out of 139 books — 68 voters
Mrs Harris Goes to Paris & Mrs Harris Goes to New York by Paul GallicoThe Brontës Went to Woolworths by Rachel FergusonMrs. Ames by E.F. BensonMrs Tim Of The Regiment by D.E. StevensonMiss Hargreaves by Frank Baker
The Bloomsbury Group Collection
8th out of 10 books — 3 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Mar 22, 2015 Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance rated it really liked it
Shelves: children, kids-1001
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.
Jan 06, 2015 K. rated it really liked it
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
May 26, 2014 Don rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jun 24, 2011 Sylvester rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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.
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
Feb 27, 2010 Nicola Mansfield rated it really liked it
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
Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all)
Two and a half stars, since two is kind of mean and three is, well, perhaps a bit fulsome. Because really, this book was disappointing. Basically, it's a love letter to the author's childhood in East London's Jewish neighbourhood, and that's fine. But for the man who would later go on to write the script for Doctor No--not a lot happens. This little boy plays around and listens to the grownups in his world talk. And yes, that's what preschoolers do. But I don't know--it was just not very satisfy ...more
Bee Ridgway
Sep 23, 2012 Bee Ridgway rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 05, 2011 Jennifer rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Mar 02, 2014 Lisa rated it really liked it
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
May 17, 2012 Adam rated it really liked it
[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
Jan 07, 2010 Nancy rated it really liked it
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
Oct 17, 2012 ReaderSP rated it it was ok
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
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.
Sheena Wilkins
May 29, 2013 Sheena Wilkins rated it it was amazing
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?
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.
Oct 27, 2012 Miriam rated it really liked it
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.
May 04, 2012 Jeanette rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2012-read-in
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.
Feb 28, 2012 P_campbe rated it really liked it
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
J Yi
Oct 08, 2012 J Yi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fairy-tales
soft and gentle read, bedtime story for adults. loved it!
Karen rated it liked it
May 01, 2011
Ana rated it liked it
Aug 02, 2013
Sara rated it liked it
Apr 05, 2016
Helen Smith
Helen Smith rated it liked it
May 01, 2010
Pragati Moghe
Pragati Moghe rated it it was ok
Feb 08, 2013
Peter Macinnis
Peter Macinnis rated it really liked it
May 04, 2009
Tracey Billson
Tracey Billson rated it liked it
May 25, 2015
Kristina rated it it was amazing
Nov 28, 2009
Sue Bridgwater
Sue Bridgwater rated it it was amazing
Jan 26, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Fairy Tales Of Madame d'Aulnoy
  • Mi Amigo El Pintor
  • Ash Road
  • Bijna iedereen kon omvallen
  • Brendon Chase
  • Jennings & Darbishire
  • Arizona (Lucky Luke #3)
  • Mein Urgroßvater und ich
  • Way Home
  • The Cuckoo Clock
  • Halinka
  • The Swish of the Curtain
  • Something's Fishy, Hazel Green
  • Marcelino Pan Y Vino
  • Uncle
  • Clorofila del Cielo Azul
  • Children on the Oregon Trail
  • The Incredible Adventures of Professor Branestawm
Wolf Mankowitz was an English novelist and playwright.
More about Wolf Mankowitz...

Share This Book