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Colin Meloy
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The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid

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4.04  ·  Rating details ·  1,094 ratings  ·  213 reviews
From the creators of the New York Times bestselling Wildwood Chronicles comes an original, humorous, and fast-paced middle grade novel about a band of child pickpockets—imagine The Invention of Hugo Cabret meets Oliver Twist.

It is an ordinary Tuesday morning in April when bored, lonely Charlie Fisher witnesses something incredible. Right before his eyes, in a busy square in Marseille, a group of picpickpockets—imagine
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Paperback, 432 pages
Published March 5th 2019 by Balzer + Bray (first published October 24th 2017)
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 ·  1,094 ratings  ·  213 reviews


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emma
Sometimes, a book just clicks. Right away. No work required: it grabs you from the beginning and absolutely refuses to let go, even when you’re like, Uh, hey, book? I have to go to sleep. It’s three a.m. Or, Excuse me, book? If you could just...I don’t know, chill out for a second? I have places to be and cupcakes to sell and you’re making it impossible for me to put you down thankssomuch.

Sometimes, a book just clicks. Right away. No work required: it grabs you from the beginning and absolutely refuses to let go, even when you’re like, Uh, hey, book? I have to go to sleep. It’s three a.m. Or, Excuse me, book? If you could just...I don’t know, chill out for a second? I have places to be and cupcakes to sell and you’re making it impossible for me to put you down thankssomuch.

https://emmareadstoomuch.wordpress.co...

This book is a monster and did not even PRETEND to listen to me. Repercussions of this book’s asshole-ish-ness include: my tip jar was relatively empty on that particular Saturday, and I had one of the most fun reading experiences of my entire human existence.

It is, honestly, a fair trade. I simply do not have the time to explain that the pink frosting is just vanilla getting in the Valentine’s Day spirit when I could be squeezing in a few more pages of nonstop adventure.

I am now questioning whether the cupcake-selling motif of this review is muddling the point. I work in a cupcake shop? So that’s why I’m being like this.

Anyway.

I should not be surprised at all that I loved this so much. This book follows a band of child pickpockets, living in Marseille, France, in 1961. The cover is beautiful.

(And so are the ILLUSTRATIONS, for God’s sake. As if it weren’t enough for this book to have illustrations generally (as every book should) (yes, double parentheses, because f*ck you), IT IS ILLUSTRATED BY THE MASTERMIND BEHIND THE ART IN THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY. If you don’t know how I feel about The Mysterious Benedict Society, you don’t know me at all. Technically that series makes up 5% of all the five star ratings I’ve ever given in all my life??? So pretty much YOU SHOULD STOP READING THIS RIGHT NOW AND GO READ THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY. IMMEDIATELY. You absolute fool.)

Forcing myself to move on: Its cast of characters is completely full-on amazing. I’m talkin’ adolescent vagabonds ranging from identical Senegalese twins to a Southern belle to a cockney girl who can disappear in any crowd to a Russian kid they call The Bear to KID WITH EYEPATCH.

Because on top of everything, the diversity in this book is fairly astounding.

Also, it is FUNNY. And since when are books funny? Like don’t get me wrong, huge book fan over here, but they’re not exactly a nonstop barrel of laughs. It’s just hard to laugh when you’re also holding a brick of pages in your hands and reading words off of them? Is this relatable or not?

All of this is to say that this book made me laugh. Against the odds, apparently.

And the WRITING! Oh, man, the writing. The descriptions. The narration. The second-person addresses to the audience! I could straight up write a love letter to the voice of this story. Adding ti to my to-do list now.

But most importantly of all: this book never stops being exciting.

I talk about how much I love middle grade adventure almost as much as I talk about my adoration of well done magical realism, but there’s a goddamn reason for it my guy. Middle grade adventure is what YA could never be: an exciting read with no gross heavy romance to detract, a lot of solid friendships, typically a good sense of humor, and a pretty consistent dose of diversity.

And this book is one of the best examples of that potential for magnificence since its royal highness The Mysterious Benedict Society itself.

ONE OF THE MOST FUN READING EXPERIENCES OF MY LIFETIME.

Bottom line: My new master plan, after conquering the world and forcing everyone to give Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland five stars, is to make all of us start being middle grade book bloggers. Stuff like this is just way too good to miss out on.



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CURRENTLY READING UPDATE

truly this book had me at "band of child pickpockets"
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Lewiş
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Okay by far this is the best book I’ve read in a long time (excluding ready player one which I read every month) pickpockets are a very interesting subject and it’s a kids book which surprised me. Colin melody author of wildwood puts together a brilliant imagination with these amazing characters. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and I highly recommend it to anyone in need of a good book.
-Lewis
Munro's Kids
Here's the thing: when the narration wasn't getting in its own way, I enjoyed this book. There's plenty to like about a tale of a secret society of pickpockets in 1960s Marseille. There's scenes of derring do, there's a satisfying con, there's a jumble of lively characters and there's a setting described in a vivid and sparkling manner. But there's also excess.

Whether or not you thinks the author goes overboard in his lavish descriptions, in his persistent use of pick pocket slang or in his inc
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Cameron Chaney
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade, 2018
The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid is a middle-grade heist novel by Colin Meloy. It takes place in early 1960s Italy and follows a young boy named Charlie who, lonely of his breezy lifestyle of traveling with his father and never making any real friends, gets wrapped up in the Whiz Mob, a group of child pickpockets. As he grows close to these kids, he learns their tricks and trades, slowly becoming a part of the Whiz… but he begins to question the morality of the Mob’s deeds.

This chunky
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Fran
Although it's set in Marseille, France, in 1961, the story is timeless. There were elements that I enjoyed, like the major plot twist half way through that completely blind sided me, and the major character Charlie. However there were several connections that I wasn't able to make, and the title


was the initial one. I felt like while the term mob usually has a negative connotation, it didn't fit the misfit band of pickpockets this book focused on. And that disconnect set up so many other aspects
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Elizabeth
Fun book. Liked the old school 1961 setting. No technology.
Shannon A
May 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Charlie is lucky to be the son of an American diplomat, he gets to visit places all over the world with his father, but he has no friends and he is bored, so bored.
The only thing he has found to resolve the ennui (Ennui: ahn-wee: A feeling of discontent resulting from lack of interest; boredom) is to make up and write stories about all the people he sees in the cafés and shops while his father is working in France.
Everything changes when he discovered that his extra special engraved fountain p
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Allison ༻hikes the bookwoods༺
I’m hesitant to call this middle grade fiction as it’s just so long and ripe with overzealous descriptions of the setting and tedious accounts of the pickpocketing taking place. I don’t think it would hold the attention of a middle grader. Also, the constant presence of the slang terms used by kids “on the whiz” was distracting and hard to follow. I kind of liked the story when I wasn’t sidetracked by all the details.
Emily Mitchell
Dec 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
FANTASTIC. Colin has not disappointed so far. When things took a sharp turn at the halfway point, my heart raced all the way to the finish. Though I won't detract a star for this, I will admit that I can't actually see this as middle grade – I sort of felt the same way about Wildwood – but since A) I am 28 years old and B) sometimes kids are way, way smarter than I give them credit for – I'll let each reader decide for themselves.
Trevor
Jun 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I read Colin Meloy's Wildwood trilogy, I was left with mixed feelings. It had a lot of potential but I didn't feel like it fulfilled very much of it. I found myself hoping that he writes another book, perhaps in a different genre, that has a chance of being better. Fortunately, he did.

The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid is a much smoother and better written book. It tells the story of Charlie Fisher, the son of the American consulate general in Marseilles, France. Bored and lonely, Charlie joins wi
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Ms. Yingling
Copy provided by Young Adult Books Central

In 1961, Charlie Fisher is a poor little rich kid whose mother has decided that she's tired of caring for him, so he gets shipped off to stay with his father, a diplomat living in Marseilles, France. He has a tutor, and gets to go to lots of posh events, but there's something lacking in his life. While writing a story while observing the crush of life around him, he notices pickpocketing going on and then meets Amir. Amir makes off with Charl
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Alyssa Nelson
*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher at ALA Annual 2017. This is an honest review.*

This book is wonderful. I was transported into an entirely different world with the lingo of the whiz mob, and it was fun to watch Charlie, who would normally be a mark for these cons, to become one of the group. While the setting is supposed to be the 1960’s, it is timeless, with its themes of friendship, family, and the ever-present theme of trying to fit in.

The main ch
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KP
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Middle-grade readers
Recommended to KP by: Ava Thompson
Shelves: reviewed, book-club
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Almira
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I didn't really finish this - I just got bored with the premise of children in modern day France being pickpockets and getting away with it, and not feeling any remorse of what they were doing.

The writing was very well done, had read the previous series by Colin, which I had enjoyed greatly, so I was really hoping for another great series.
Brett Swanson
Dec 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
I've got to start by saying I was excited to get an ARC from HarperCollins. It's always awesome to get a book that I wanted to read for free, and it gives me a good excuse to move a book up my TBR and take a break from all the other series I'm in the middle of. Upon opening the book, however, I was a little sad. Being an ARC, the book was missing a lot of the illustrated pages. I love Carson Ellis's illustrations. They are a fun addition to Colin Meloy's quirky style. I'll just have to purchase ...more
Alec
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Keeping in mind this book was recommended by my 10-year-old son, I quite enjoyed this book. There's are elements of Ocean's Eleven, Robin Hood, and Peter Pan mixed together which give the book a bit of whimsical, juvenile (hall), fun.

The main character, Charlie, is a diplomat's son whose life is a bit lonely and boring. He's got a tutor, a driver (when he needs them), but very few actual friends. This all changes one day when he bumps into a group of street thieves organized into a c
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Doni
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chapter-book
I WANTED to like this. I really did. Particularly because the author is the songwriter for the Decemberists. I know he was trying to be funny in a lot of his over-the-top parts, but the writing was overwrought with little redemption. He kept inserting himself as an unnecessary narrator and it got in the way of immersing myself in the plot. There's a twist partway through that threw me and I enjoyed that, and I became more involved to find out how Charlie was going to breach the headquarters of t ...more
Samantha Shoen
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was fantastic. Want to visit Marseilles in the 1960’s? Prepare to be pickpocketed by a band of organized child criminals. The writing was beautiful but I’ve been a fan of The Decemberists music for a long time, how fortunate are we that Colin Meloy can, not only sing, but he can write amazing stories.
Elisabeth
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This felt like a story your favorite uncle would tell you. You would forgive his occasional rambling and self indulgences that would sometimes distract from the narrative because he created a really fun world, set in a really fun time and in a really fun place. I just wish this particular Uncle Narrator got to the good stuff faster than he did and maybe it wouldn't have taken me almost 3 mos to finish! Middle grade readers who stick it out will be rewarded with an exciting ending -- but sadly "h ...more
Amy
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Clever as always, Colin Meloy weaves a different tale of childhood adventure form the Wildwood books. The bounds of his imagination are limitless and it is always so much fun to be along for the ride.
Kristi
Aug 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars. I loved this.
John Lamb
May 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Immensely enjoyable.
Martin P
Fun read. Beautiful illustrations. 3.5 stars.
Shreya
Finally finished! This book was LONG! But ultimately worth it, maybe. Fairly entertaining.
Alexandra!
It was a bit slow for the first half, but gradually gained my interest.
Ryan Ward
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant and brilliantly told caper. Makes me want to become a professional pickpocket.
Chamisa
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pure fun from start to finish - I loved it! And the illustrations are simply wonderful. Highly recommend!
John
Dec 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A 3.5

Fun! Meloy's storytelling and sense of humor shine. The last 100 were not as good for me as the first 300.
Janet Hutchinson
I suppose I should have seen the con - but I missed it. Twice. This is a great book - well written, and a good story. Charlie and Amir were great characters, and the storyline was well thought out. Great read!
Graham P
Dec 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good book. Really liked it. I would recommend.
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Colin Patrick Henry Meloy is the lead singer and songwriter for the Portland, Oregon folk-rock band The Decemberists. In addition to his vocal duties, he plays acoustic guitar, 12-string acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bouzouki, and percussion. As of 2005, Meloy has written a 100-page book on The Replacements' fourth album, "Let It Be," released as part of the 33 series.

Meloy was bor
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“You might be interested to know that the Palais du Pharo was built in 1858 by Napoléon III (not that Napoléon, but another) for his wife, Doña María Eugenia Ignacia Augustina de Palafox-Portocarrero de Guzmán y Kirkpatrick. The emperor and Doña María Eugenia Ignacia Augustina de Palafox-Portocarrero de Guzmán y Kirkpatrick did not live in the residence during the emperor’s life, and Doña María Eugenia Ignacia Augustina de Palafox-Portocarrero de Guzmán y Kirkpatrick ended up donating the property to the city of Marseille after Doña María Eugenia Ignacia Augustina de Palafox-Portocarrero de Guzmán y Kirkpatrick’s husband’s death. The city, undoubtedly, was very thankful to Doña María Eugenia Ignacia Augustina de Palafox-Portocarrero de Guzmán y Kirkpatrick, because the Palais was a fine neoclassical building with commanding views of the Old Port and the Mediterranean Sea. It is anyone’s guess why Doña María Eugenia Ignacia Augustina de Palafox-Portocarrero de Guzmán y Kirkpatrick chose not to live in such a fine residence, but we can assume that, being an empress, Doña María Eugenia Ignacia Augustina de Palafox-Portocarrero de Guzmán y Kirkpatrick had her pick of the litter when it came to extraordinary addresses. You might also be interested to know that Doña María Eugenia Ignacia Augustina de Palafox-Portocarrero de Guzmán y Kirkpatrick was commonly called Empress Eugénie, but it’s a bit late for that information, since that is likely the last time she’ll be mentioned in this book.” 0 likes
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