The book takes place in England over 100 years ago and some of the dialogue took a little work to understand. Pullman includes a short glossary in the back of the book so you can understand some of the British words that we don't use in the US. But the dialogue didn't take away from my enjoyment of the book. It was actually fun to read.
Benny is the self-proclaimed leader of the New Cut Gang, and along with Thunderbolt and Bridie and even the young Peretti twins, the gang finds crimes to solve. The book is divided into two sections, like two mini-novels in one book, and in each one the kids stumble upon a crime and use some pretty smart detective skills to solve them.
In the first book called "Thunderbolt's Waxwork", Thunderbolt thinks his own father is the criminal, so he is reluctant to try to solve the crime. Still, they follow the clues to solve the mystery of who is using fake money in the neighborhood and even end up getting their friend Dippy into the Wax Museum.
In "The Gas-Fitter's Ball," the second story in the book, the gang has to solve the crime of a theft from the Gas-Fitter's Hall and help their friend Dick overcome his shyness to propose to his sweetheart. Each member of the gang has a job to do, and they all have to use their wits and talents to help solve the crime.
I like this book for a few reasons. First, the author is a great storyteller and he keeps you engaged with the story by adding in little mysteries throughout. Each story is one big mystery and Pullman is a master at leaving clues so you think you can solve the crime when you read it, but then he adds in some new information and it doesn't turn out the way you thought at all. I also like the characters a lot, especially how they take care of each other.
Two Craft Criminals! can be a challenging read because of the 100 year old British language, but it is such fun to follow the clues that it is worth the effort. The chapters are short enough to read during your 20-30 minutes of reading time each day. Try it!
Genre: Mystery / Historical Fiction
Shelved in the Mystery section of our Classroom library