Book Review, Middle Grade Fiction

Fagin’s Girl by Karen McCombie

Already a huge Karen McCombie fan, I couldn’t wait to read Fagin’s Girl. With Barrington Stoke’s manageable length, accessible print and vocab, and incredibly high quality stories, this Victorian adventure is a must-have for Key Stage Two classrooms and libraries.

Ettie’s life has never been easy, especially since her father died, but on her tenth birthday, things go from bad to worse. She and mother strive to make ends meet by making fabric flowers for ladies’ hats while her older brother, Joe, goes out to work. When he reveals a terrible secret, they argue and he runs away. Their mother falls ill and before Ettie knows it, she’s left on her own.

She sets out on a Dickensian adventure. Her resilience and determination are all she has to hang on to. Reunited with her brother, Joe introduces Ettie (disguised as a boy) to Mr Fagin who welcomes her into his gang of pickpockets. She finds she must push her morals aside to do what is asked of her and their sibling bond is tested.

Fagin’s Girl provides detailed insight into the lives of poor children in Victorian England. Additional facts at the end of the book build on this engaging story and provide discussion points and lesson topics for schools. Australia, the truth about the experiences of aboriginal people and the impact of the arrival of Europeans are also explored as Ettie and Joe’s descendants find out about their troubled history.

Thank you to Barrington Stoke for this fascinating book!

Click on the covers below to find out more or purchase on-line from Amazon or

Books by Kate Heap:

Contemporary Children’s Literature: Years 3/4

Nonfiction: Years 5/6

Nonfiction: Years 3/4

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