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The Old Tobacco Shop: A True Account of What Befell a Little Boy in Search of Adventure
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The Old Tobacco Shop: A True Account of What Befell a Little Boy in Search of Adventure

3.44  ·  Rating details ·  128 ratings  ·  30 reviews
The Old Tobacco Shop: A True Account of What Befell a Little Boy in Search of Adventure is a children's fantasy novel by William Bowen that was named a Newbery Honor book.

Five-year-old Freddie meets the owner of a nearby tobacco shop, Mr. Toby Littleback; his old-maid aunt, Aunt Amanda; and Mr. Punch, a hunchbacked man who sits outside the shop holding cigars. Toby warns y
Hardcover, 236 pages
Published June 1921 by Macmillan Publishing Company
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3.44  · 
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 ·  128 ratings  ·  30 reviews

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Apr 27, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers Who Enjoy Quirky Fantasy Novels for Children / Newbery Completists
Selected - along with Cedric the Forester , The Windy Hill , The Golden Fleece and the Heroes Who Lived Before Achilles , and The Great Quest - as a Newbery Honor Book in 1922, the year the award was first established, William Bowen's The Old Tobacco Shop is the kind of surreal children's fantasy I generally associate with the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Think Alice's Adventures in Wonderland meets Aladdin, with a pipe-smoking five-year-old, a little hunchback tobacco-shop p ...more
Jan 04, 2013 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody
Shelves: newberys
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Christina Potter Bieloh
May 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was an odd book for me. It's a 1922 Newberry honor book otherwise I never would have tried it or known about it. It has a kind of Alice in Wonderland quality to it. Tim Burton would have a Great time with this book. I got impatient with this nonsensical type of adventure they were on (and even skimmed parts), but I really liked some of the characters (Aunt Amanda in particular. She was a little sad and very endearing). It's not my favorite book, but I'm glad I became acquainted with it.
Dec 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: youth-fiction
I can see why it was a Newbery Honor book for 1922. Sadly, I suspect that the strange 'tobacco' in the Chinaman's head and Freddie's use of it would no longer be considered politically correct (or safe for young readers). I can't recall another book quite like it and if I'd read it as a child I'm certain that the images it conjures up would have stayed with me forever. As it is, it pushed an awful lot of buttons. Loved it.
Jun 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: newbery-honor
This is so very good. I'm surprised it was so difficult to find a copy. I'd recommend this to an 8 year old as a read-aloud. It reads a little like a Dickens or Jane Austen novel at times with mention of a place called High Dudgeon and the rag-bone man.

Aunt Amanda, referring to her lost children: “Yes, I miss them a good deal, and I suppose I even cry sometimes because I haven’t got them. But I love to think about them. I’m happy thinking about them, even if I can’t have them.”
Lisa Houlihan
Dec 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newberyh, juv-fic, amale
This is just the thing to while away the wee hours when you can't sleep on your dead sister's birthday and your other books require concentration.
Amanda Carlucci
While reading this book, I couldn't decide whether I liked it or not. It's a Newberry Honor book from 1923, so I was expecting it to be a bit dated. That shouldn't make a difference, though, but I'm now curious as to the required quality of work in the 20s that would award such a book as this with an honor.

The body of the book was composed of one irrelevant, convoluted adventure after another. It didn't flow well, and nothing made sense. There was just too much randomness. It would be one thing
Apr 04, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: newbery-honor
I realize that this one was written almost a hundred years ago, but I do not think that the age of it was the main distraction for me. It just seemed to wander all over the place, adding new characters, jumping from one magical destination to another, veering from story line to story line, and so on. I received very little enjoyment from this, and was more relieved to have completed it, simply to check it off as one more Newbery Honor read.
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a Newbery Honor book (1922) and it's probably not for everyone. Initially I was all over the place with it and then decided to abandon my 21st c sensibilities and read it for what it is: a book written in 1922 for children. I suspect that it was intended as a read-aloud given the young age of the child protagonist (5 or 6 yrs old); even skewing for the dumbing down of children's literature in the past 50 years and given that kids like to read up (about older kids), I can't think the read ...more
Joe Hoover
Jun 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Magic tobacco. Enough said.
May 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Dated but still interesting. See for details!
Mar 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
The Old Tobacco Shop by William Bowen

The Old Tobacco Shop: A True Account of What Befell A Little Boy in Search of Adventure, written by William Bowen, was selected as a Newbery Honor Book in 1922.
Freddie, newly settled in a fine-two story brick row house in a city on the banks of the Patapsco River (perhaps this could be Baltimore, Maryland), is sent on an errand to The Old Tobacco Shop to purchase half a pound of “Cage-Roach Mitchner” tobacco for his father. Upon his arrival at the shop of t
Kim  Dennis
Feb 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: newbery, read-fiction
I had a hard time knowing how to rate this book -- it was another one I wanted to rate 2.5 stars. When it first started out, I (judging from my 21st Century mentality) had a hard time with the fact that towards the beginning of the book, a little boy was smoking. I know in the 1920s they didn't know as much about the effects of smoking, but I still didn't like it. I was also thinking that it was just going to turn out to be some kind of a hallucination because of the smoking, and I really didn't ...more
Apr 13, 2017 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Angie Lisle
This is a 1922 Newbery Honor Book.

The story is billed as being styled after Dickens. Only two words, lifted from Oliver Twist, made me think of Charles Dickens: "Please, sir," said Freddie....

The narration of the story reminded me of Lewis Carroll and the literary-nonsense genre, which isn't one of my favorite genres so I may be biased in my dislike of the story.

Verbose descriptions ramble on and on and on...

The rambling prose shows Freddy's youth to readers and was used to incorporate multip
This is an interesting adventure story that I never would have read if it hadn't won a Newbery honor in 1922, the first year Newbery awards were given. Because of the way the adventure started, with magic smoking tobacco, I thought it was going to end in the classic (and usually disappointing) "it was all a dream" ending. Worrying about the ending ruined some of my enjoyment in the adventure while I was reading. I kept wondering if I was going to regret taking the time to read this if it all tur ...more
Thomas Bell
Aug 13, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: newbery-honors
To me this book seemed like a bunch of people around a campfire telling a story. Every chapter the next person wanted to change the story, so it became something different. Yeah, things that were clearly important at the beginning of the book had absolutely no relevance sometimes only pages later. And yes, it seemed like there were competing directions the book should take. I also foresaw the ending quite clearly. The kid was sick and had a dream. Shocker.

However, the book did hold my attention,
Apr 27, 2013 rated it did not like it
1922 Newbery Honor Book

This book is public domain so I was able to get a copy off Project Gutenburg and read it digitally.

I was not at all impressed with the book. It starts with a young boy named Freddie who visits a tobacco shop and gets to know the people who run the shop. One day Freddie smokes the Chinaman's tobacco which is enchanted and this pirate guy shows up and an adventure starts.
Jun 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Getting close to finishing all the Newberry winners now... This won in 1922, otherwise, I would never have run into it.

The story was ok, if a little confusing and long at times, and the main character, little Freddie was a cutie. Very much written in the vein of what you would expect from a kids book in 1922. Poorly developed characters and story, not much theme, but a lesson learned in the end. Overall, it was a nice change from my usual reading, but nothing fantastic.
Nov 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I now have TWO, yes, TWO best books I've ever read! This one and the Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles. Both of these books were published long befor the 90's. I don't know what it is. Maybe it's the "old timey" language they use, or maybe it just the sheer joy of adventure; I don't mean the type that's in the Hunger Games, or Harry Potter, or The Lightning Thief. Whatever it is, it's irresistible and I LOVE it! I rate this book 7 out of 5 stars! It's at the top of my recommendations!
Jul 30, 2013 rated it liked it
This book, a Gutenberg freebie, started out as a Dickensian-type story, then segued into an adventure with sailing ships, pirates and their booty, then a fairy tale within a fairy tale. One of the characters said, "My brain is in a whirl. Are we ourselves now, or were we ourselves before?" Indeed. I wasn't exactly fond of the ending, but enjoyed the story.
Apr 01, 2016 rated it liked it
This was an odd little book that was full of adventure but didn't have have enough connection between them to hold my interest. Too many of the characters tended to talk a lot without getting to the point. It was also very much of its own time, so it is not surprising to me that this one doesn't seem to have lasted as well as some other books do.
Nov 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: newbery-honor
This was one of the first Newbery Honor books selected. I enjoyed the adventure and word play and could picture a child in 1922 having a great time reading this. Lots of action, adventure and interesting characters that would particularly appeal to boy readers. It won't be one of my all-time favorites, but I had a great time reading it.
Feb 03, 2015 rated it liked it
A 1922 Newbery Honor book. It is a fun adventure story, with some deeper messages to keep the adults on their toes. But there are definitely some aspects that show its date - The whole fantastic adventure begins when a young boy smokes some "magic tobacco" that he was told to stay away from!
Gail Smith
Feb 04, 2013 rated it did not like it
A story of a young boy on a pipe dream.
Bill Withers
Dec 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
'Enjoyed this throwback to the early 20th C when tobacco was okay and pipe tobacco was A-OK. The storyline reminded me of L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz.
Jul 15, 2012 marked it as to-read
Newbery Honor Book 1922
Nancy (Colorado)
Jan 23, 2016 rated it liked it
What a fantastic adventure for a biy named Freddie!
Feb 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: newbery, ya, adventure, fantasy
Adventure with hunchbacks, treasure, pirates and so on. It's got a old feel to it as children's books written 1920s and before can have.
Feb 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
An unusual read. Makes you feel like you are on something as you read--or maybe they were when they wrote it. Intriguing.
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