After being pushed around by bigger street urchins, a wee lad finds a remote corner far from the city’s center. On a muddy little alleyway he stands, shoeless and hungry, begging for scraps of food. His corner is mostly deserted; not even carts use the road because of its deep ruts. Then a tall rider on a big black horse thunders down the road and hurriedly dismounts his steed. Before slipping down an alley, the gentleman asks the boy to watch the horse, with a promise of a golden guinea upon his return.
“Covered with mud and steaming like a dragon,” the horse is a majestic animal, standing 16 hands. The boy suspects it is the legendary Black Bess; he quickly grows attached to the mare, even sharing his meager food with her.
The sight of the huge animal on the remote street corner draws a crowd. Most onlookers are curious, a few are kind and generous, but some are dangerous and devious. As the boy awaits the man’s return, the cold day turns into an icy night. With hunger gnawing at his belly, the boy dreams of how he will spend his money.
When a shifty-looking toothless man attempts to buy the mare for “thirty shillings,” the boy grows suspicious. The situation becomes more dangerous after soldiers question him about the horse's owner. The soldiers, led by the captain of the King’s guard, are in pursuit of the legendary highwayman, Dick Turpin, who has committed a robbery and escaped on his famous horse, Black Bess.
The boy has to make a decision that could cost him his gold guinea, put him and the horse in jeopardy --- or get him into trouble with the law.
HIGHWAY ROBBERY is a suspenseful tall tale told in an engaging voice. The story’s message is one of responsibility, courage and doing what is right, no matter the circumstances. A magnificent horse, a notorious thief, an unlikely hero and a daring adventure --- Kate Thompson knows how to keep young readers turning the pages.
Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt on May 26, 2009
- Publication Date: May 26, 2009
- Hardcover: 128 pages
- Publisher: Greenwillow Books
- ISBN-10: 0061730343
- ISBN-13: 9780061730344