BooksforTopics Reading for Pleasure Recommendations
Book Title: Gangster School
Author: Kate Wiseman
Illustrator: Isla Bousfield-Donohoe
Publication Date: May 2018
Most Suitable For: Years 3-6
Gangster School is the humorous first instalment in a new series by Kate Wiseman. Imagine a Hogwarts for criminals and you will very quickly understand the premise of the entertaining and light-hearted series.
The students at Blaggard’s Gangster School take lessons in thievery, fabrication and stealth as they desperately attempt to become less ‘dependable’ and make their felonious families proud by proving they have what it takes to succeed in the world of crime. It’s a great premise for a children’s series which is likely to hold a high appeal to young readers.
New Year 7 intakes Milly and Charlie soon make friends with each other as they attempt to navigate their new school, quickly discovering that this is a place that flips upside down normal rules and where you might just become a star pupil by lying about your homework in fabrication class and insulting your teacher in discourtesy lessons.
Milly, who comes from a family of infamous art forgers, is not altogether convinced she wants to grow up in the world of crime. She is resourceful and intelligent and many readers will relate to the way in which the transition to secondary school is a fundamental moment in her identity quest. Meanwhile, Charlie is a highly talented hacker who’s technical wizardry will help the pair overcome all sorts of sticky situations and undercut traditional styles of criminal activity, from outwitting older students looking for victims of their initiation tricks to thwarting the plans of evil super-villain Pecunia Badpenny.
There is plenty of warmth and wit in Kate’s writing and the safe and entertaining style of storytelling means that nothing feels threatening about the world she has created. The book is not asking readers to aspire to criminal activity any more than Harry Potter tells its readers they must become wizards; it simply portrays a fictional world that is cleverly and convincingly constructed in way that the reader does not need to question its purpose but is free instead to sit back and enjoy the adventure and appreciate the humour of the writing.
The world of Gangster School is bags of fun and I’m looking forward to more to come, with the sequel due to be published in September 2018.
Many thanks to the publisher for kindly sending me a review copy of this book.