Wednesday, 12 July 2017

A Cardboard Palace by Allayne L. Webster



A Cardboard Palace by Allayne L. Webster
Published June 1, 2017 by Midnight Sun
Source: the publisher
Rating: 4 stars

From the blurb: Jorge lives in a shanty town on the outskirts of Paris. Bill, a controller, has an army of child thieves at his command - and Jorge is one of them.
But soon Jorge faces an even bigger threat. His home is to be bulldozed. Where will Jorge sleep? What will happen to his friends, Ada and Gino? Could a growing friendship with Australian chef Sticky Ricky help Jorge to stop Bill and save the army of child thieves?
And will he do it before he loses Ada forever?
Jorge can't keep fighting to live - now he must live to fight.

A Cardboard Palace by Allayne L. Webster is set in Paris, but it's not the Paris we see advertised to tourists. Jorge is eleven-years-old and he was taken from his family in Romania years ago and bought to France to work for a man named Bill. Bill collects children and uses them in all sorts of schemes around Paris. He teaches them to beg and steal and makes them live in a small community on the outskirts of Paris. The community is made up of immigrants and they have built houses out of metal and cardboard. The children have nothing of their own and are often left to go hungry as punishment.

Jorge's character was a testament to the human spirit. You'd think living such a hard life would make a child hard as well, but Jorge is loyal, caring, and inquisitive. He is obsessed with food and longs to be a chef one day - a dream Bill scoffs at. Jorge is also naive and slow to work out what's going on. He is fearful of Bill's threats and tries to follow orders, even when his conscience tells him otherwise.

There are brighter spots in this story; Jorge's love of food and Paris were a delight. He truly loves where he lives and longs to be a part of the city. He meets people who are kind to streets kids rather than shunning them, and he starts to dream about what his future might hold.

This is a heartbreaking story that highlights a lot of world issues in a way that is perfect for middle grade and teen readers. There are hints to more serious and disturbing issues (like child brides and human trafficking) that aren't too graphic for young readers, and I'm sure this story will spark conversations between children and parents.

Ableist language: crazy, insane.

A Cardboard Palace shines a light on the darker side of a major city we know and love, in a beautiful, sensitive and needed way. It's a touching story of survival and hope.

Thank you to Midnight Sun for my copy.

3 comments:

  1. Wow, this actually sounds really interesting! Like one of those books that will open eyes. Glad that you liked it! I've seen a few others reviews of this one - all positive, so I'm feeling good about this one. Thanks for the great review!

    Cass @ Words on Paper

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