Gideon the Cutpurse: A Review

Gideon the Cutpurse by Linda Buckley-ArcherAll Peter Schock wants is for his father to finally keep one of his promises. Peter’s twelfth birthday is long gone, but his father has yet to provide Peter with their long-promised day of celebration including sledding, lunch in town, and a Premiership football match–a day spent doing his favorite things with his father! What could be better?

Unfortunately for everyone involved Mr. Schock once again fails to follow through, postponing Peter’s birthday treat for the fourth time. Instead Peter is being dragged off to the country with his au pair to visit her friends–a family Peter doesn’t even know.

Not that Peter really expected anything else from his workaholic father who always seems to have another meeting or another client that is inevitably more important than him.

In the country, Peter meets Kate Dyer–a girl Peter’s age who seems to be a headstrong know-it-all and no one Peter would choose to spend time with. If he had any choice in the matter, anyway. After an encounter with an anti-gravity machine catapults the children back to 18th century England, Kate and Peter will only have each other.

Back in the 21st century everyone knows the children are missing and a massive police hunt is launched. But no matter how hard the police search it seems that the two children have vanished into thin air.

Meanwhile in 1763 the Tar Man, a fearsome criminal, has stolen the anti-gravity machine–their one hope of returning home. Stranded in a foreign time, the children have no choice but to try and get the anti-gravity machine back. Gideon Seymour, reformed cutpurse and mostly gentleman, has agreed to help the children. Will they succeed? Or will Gideon’s dark past interfere with his good intention and conspire to keep Peter and Kate in the 18th century for good in Gideon the Cutpurse* (2006) by Linda Buckley-Archer.

Gideon the Cutpurse is a richly-told fantasy. Buckley-Archer blends the improbable and fantastical to create a vibrant story that, amazingly, is peppered with strikingly authentic depictions of what life in 18th century England might have looked like not only to its historical occupants but also to modern children.

Some readers will love the story for its fantasy and time travel, others for the wonderful characters. Still others will love the novel approach to historical(ish) fiction. Most readers will love Gideon the Cutpurse for all of these reasons. The story takes its time getting started and setting the scene for events to come, but it builds to an exciting conclusion sure to leave readers eager for the next installment.

Possible Pairings: The Search for Wondla by Tony DiTerlizzi, The Glass Sentence by S. E. Grove, Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale and Nathan Hale, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, The Boneshaker by Kate Milford, The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel, The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman, The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

*This book was originally published in England under the title Gideon the Cutpurse. I don’t know why they changed the title, but the American edition is sometimes called The Time Travelers. This book is the first book of the Gideon Trilogy (alternately called The Enlightenment of Peter Schock).The second book is called The Tar Man/The Time Thief (US edition). The third book is called The Time Quake/The Splintering of Time. I will be referring to the books by their English titles because I received an English copy from the publisher for review and because I generally prefer the English titles and cover art.

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