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Highway Robbery

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  124 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
'Hold the mare for me, lad. And when I come back I'll give you a golden guinea.'

It's more money than the street urchin has ever dreamt of. But who is the rider, and why is there so much interest in his big black horse? And will the boy ever see the money he has been promised?

There's highway robbery in the air, but it isn't always entirely clear just who is trying to rob wh
Kindle Edition
Published (first published July 26th 2008)
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Jun 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
I've been talking a lot about unreliable narrators in my children's book reviews lately. Not entirely sure why that is. I guess it may have something to do with the fact that I've been seeing a lot more of them popping up in kids books lately. The other day I read and reviewed Max Quigley Technically Not a Bully which had the advantage of being the kind of unreliable that is evident right from Chapter One. Then I recently had the good fortune to stumble on author Kate Thompson's early chapter bo ...more
Eva Mitnick
No, there isn’t much action in this slim book – essentially, a boy stands around in a nasty, cold, muddy street holding a horse for a gentleman who is conducting some business nearby. Some dubious types come around, wanting to buy (or steal, more likely) the horse from the boy, some nice stolid farmers admire the horse, and then some soldiers come by and tell the boy that this horse belongs to famous highway robber Dick Turpin. The boy must keep holding the horse until Dick Turpin comes back, at ...more
Janine Southard
A street-kid in ye olden days is given a horse to hold onto, and that's the majority of the action here. What distinguishes the book is the gloriously unreliable narrator and his "telling a tale" voice.

Things that happen:
* Mark Twain-esque, our protagonist charges some girls for the right to braid the horses hair
* temptation by evil
* difficult choices between keeping his word and upholding the law

Very fun and lively, the book takes a reasonable turn at the end when we realize that the entire sto
Sly, sly little book. I read it for the Dick Turpin angle, I would recommend it for kids just starting in chapter books, or anyone who's big on street urchins and highwaymen.

I'll be reading more Thompson. This reminds me of Twain and "The Ransom of Little Chief", as well as my beloved Scarlett Angelina Wolverton-Manning.
Mona Gonzalez-Tricker
I picked up this quick read and thoroughly enjoyed it! As an avid historical fiction reader, this peaked enough interest to have me investigate Dick Turpin and his adventures. It's short and fact paced; a great fit for the reluctant reader.
Jun 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: booktalkers

So this street urchin is hanging around, hoping for a hand-out, when this guy, riding an enormous black horse, skids to a halt in front of him and asks him to hold his horse while he attends to some business promising him a golden guinea when he returns. Well the rider is none other than highwayman Dick Turpin whose horse, Black Bess, was as well known as her master. The urchin, however, is ignorant of the identity of the horse and her master. Yet he remains steadfast, though his feet are freezi
Aug 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kids-fiction
The poor little boy was minding his own business, standing near the street, shivering from the cold and hoping someone would pass him a spare crust of bread, when the tall man on stopped and offered him a golden guinea to hold his big, black horse until he returned. With a rumbling stomach and nothing to eat, what could he do but agree? How could he know what lay ahead?

The whole of the action takes place in one spot on the street, yet this entertaining novel for kids moves at a brisk pace. Thom
Sarah Sammis
Apr 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Highway Robbery by Kate Thompson is a short chapter book with a lovely vintage feel to it. It has a few plates of pen and ink illustrations, something I've not seen in recently published books.

The story is told as a discussion between the main character, an un-named street urchin, and the reader who has presumably met the boy while going about his or her business.

The boy defensively explains why he's holding onto such a fine black mare, far better than any boy in his situation should ever have a
Adele Broadbent
Jun 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A young homeless boy is looking for a place to beg on the streets on the edge of a city. Suddenly a man thunders towards him on a huge black horse. He leaps from his steed and asks the boy to mind it – his payment will be a gold guinea.
The beggar boy stands for hours with the horse while men offer many shillings for it.
He is hungry and cold and very tempted, but keeps hold of the horse in the dark.
When a group of soldiers arrive, they tell him the horse is ‘Black Bess’ - the steed of none other
A young orphan boy recounts the tale of how he came by the famous highwayman, Dick Turpin’s horse, Black Bess. The street urchin tells of his adventures since first being handed the horse with a promise of a guinea, from having girls pay to braid the mare’s mane, unscrupulous men trying to buy and steal the horse to acting as bait to catch the highwayman himself. Only at the end is it revealed who the boy is telling his story to and the reader must decide how reliable the narrator is.
The story
Miss Pippi the Librarian
Quick and enjoyable read - perfect for a waiting room or an early chapter book reader. If you like to mingle with excitement, horses and thieves, it's a book for you.

Love the illustrations inside the book and was disappointed to see the cover does not match the inside sketches. In the other editions section, I noticed that some covers are different than the one reviewed here. I think it is important to have illustrations match throughout the entire book unless the characters clash throughout th
Feb 26, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Review written: sometime before 9th May, 2015

Highway Robbery by Kate Thompson

Why I read it: Continuation of my quest to read everything Kate Thompson ever wrote.

Rating: 3/5

What I thought: Pleasant enough, but somewhat unremarkable. Well-paced though, and with plenty of charmingly grotesque illustrations. I do like too that it mostly takes place in a single location, plus (view spoiler) is very much appreciated. No fantasy elements whatsoev
May 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm a big Kate Thompson fan and thoroughly enjoyed this short, large-print illustrated swashbuckling chapter book, but think it's for a much younger audience than its publisher (they say middle grade novel/10 and up/5th grade and up), though older children may enjoy it, too. Great b/w horse illustrations, terrific silver-tongued urchin, and a wonderful, large-hearted black horse owned by the legendary 18th-century highwayman Dick Turpin--or not. You decide. Recommended for all, but especially go ...more
Brooke Shirts
Dec 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A clean-as-a-whistle, sharp-as-a-thistle tale that draws on 17th century highwayman legends. A young street orphan is asked by a mysterious stranger to keep an eye on a horse -- which may or may not be Black Bess, owned by the infamous robber Dick Turpin. It's difficult to present ethical dilemmas in children's novels without straying to far into didacticism, but this little number does it with subtlety and style. The protagonist's voice is so richly fleshed out that this book might even make fo ...more
Feb 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Slim, quick read (not terribly easy due to historical English language and idioms) that was suspenseful and would make a great read aloud.
A beggar boy with no boots is asked to look after a mare , for which he will receive a golden guinea. Turns out the owner of the mare is the famous "wanted" highwayman Dick Turpin.

I have a version with a terrible cover - does not portray the inside illustrations or the tone of the story well at all. Looks like a girl or boy riding a horse.
Gwen the Librarian
I really wanted to like this because there is so little variety for 3rd-4th grade readers besides the ubiquitous series. It's the story of a guttersnipe boy in early 19th century England (?) who is asked to hold the horse of a highwayman. Lots of different people come up and talk to the boy about the horse and even try to steal it from him. In the end, the reader has to decide if the story was even true or if the boy made up the story to sell the horse. Kinda fun. Not my favorite.
Aimee Walters-Mabbott
I'm lucky enough to have grown up knowing this author Kate Thompson, daughter of the late historian E.P. Thompson and Dorothy Thompson. Another children's novel conveying a mystery- will the dark stranger be revealed? Could it be the notorious Dick Turpin? A suspense filled book that will promote lots of rich book talk and will have children wanting to read on, it is ideal for key stage two children both as a lone read or as a shared book.
Alyson Whatcott
I am a big fan of Kate Thompson, but this was probably my least favorite book. I had read about a big spellbinding ending, good for discussion, and my imagination ran away with me. I found the ending much more subtle that anticipated, so I was left feeling a little flat. Cute story, just not my favorite.
Jun 08, 2009 rated it liked it
A fun, quick read based on a tale of the outlaw Dick Turpin...or is it? The nature of the story is a rambling tale told by a young urchin who was stuck holding the famous outlaw's horse, through a long day and night.
Not great literature, and the vocabulary will confuse some of those of the age suited to the story, but it's a generally good book.
Chelsea Couillard-Smith
What a surprising, delightfully deceptive book! Can't give much away, but it's not as straightforward as it seems, and young readers will love the puzzle it offers. A very quick read, reading level for young/middle elementary readers but with a challenge that will appeal to older ages as well. This would be a fun book club option.
Nov 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book: it's rare to find a chapter book that's suitable for younger (upper second and third grade) readers that has good literary value. This would make an excellent book group book for the library's third grade book group...think I'll pass the title on to Jennifer, in case she needs another book choice for that group...
Jan 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There isn't a lot to this book, but the originality and the author's ability to leave readers wondering make this book stand out. After all, who can blame a little boy for staring in awe as a mysterious man with a midnight black horse rides into town? A story of wonder, this book is one many horse- people can relate to.
Apr 02, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teen, children, 2013
I read this book to one of my pupils. Neither of us were overly impressed. It is about a young boy who is asked to hold the reins of a horse as the owner disappears. It aspires that the horse is none other than Black Bess, the steed of Dick Turpin.
Virginia Walter
I loved The New Policeman and the Last of the High Kings. This one, not so much. A guttersnipe tells us how he came to be guarding Dick Turpin's horse Black Bess. Or maybe it's all a lie... Who's fooling whom?
Dec 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kid-lit
A young street urchin tells the tale about his adventure/ordeal in being entrusted by the famous Dick Turpin to hold his horse while Turpin ran an errand.. Kids should love it. Lots of artwork ala Illustrated Classics. I enjoyed it as an entertaining short story and quick read :-)
Jun 07, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: children, teachers, librarians
A cute little book about a street urchin who supposedly protects and cares for the horse of a famous highwayman. However, little urchin narrators are hardly trustworthy. A fun little book with great illustrations. 5th grade and up.
Sep 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: early readers, boys
Shelves: chapter-book
Who is fooling who in this old fashioned story.
Lana Krumwiede
A quick read, a strong voice, and an interesting main character. The reader has to decide whether the boy is telling the truth or not. I can imagine some fun classroom applications.
Leslie Barberie Blount
Very good book for kids just getting into chapter books. There are a lot of pictures, that add to the story. There is action and a little twist at the end. Great book.
Sep 11, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
i thought it was a pretty good book
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

Kate Thompson is an award-winning writer for children and adults.She has lived in Ireland, where many of her books are set, since 1981. She is the youngest child of the social historians and peace activists E. P. Thompson and Dorothy Towers. She worked with horses and travelled in India before settling in the w
More about Kate Thompson