Fagin's Girl

Fagin's Girl

By Author / Illustrator

Karen McCombie, Anneli Bray


Historical Fiction

Age range(s)



Barrington Stoke Ltd




Paperback / softback




Orphan Ettie Shaw is penniless and homeless on the streets of London when she is spotted by her older brother Joe.  Joe has fallen in with a notorious pickpocket gang run by a man called Fagin, and Ettie has to disguise herself as a boy so she can come back with him to Fagin's lair.  At first Ettie is able to help out with mending and other domestic jobs, but when one of the other boys falls ill, Fagin demands that Ettie go out pickpocketing with Joe and everything goes horribly wrong...  Fagin's infamous gang comes to life once more in this exciting Oliver Twist-inspired adventure from bestselling author Karen McCombie.



Ettie's life is hard; her dad has died, and they are scraping a living. Ettie and her mum work long hours wiring and making flowers for rich ladies to have on their bonnets. Her brother Joe was earning money too, but it wasn't from the job they thought he had; he'd left that after he'd been beaten by his boss. And then Joe disappears. Soon, Ettie finds herself all alone. With no money to pay the rent and nobody to look after her, she leaves their room, taking her broom with her in the hope of earning money sweeping the streets. But things are tougher than she thought until she finds her brother who takes her back with him to meet Fagin and learn the life of a pickpocket. But what will happen if they get caught?

Through the eyes of Ettie and Joe, Karen McCombie tells the tale of life in Victorian times. Readers can follow the harsh realities many children faced and the brutal punishments they were treated to. She also uses this book to raise awareness of the impact on Aboriginal heritage.

Links to: Victorian life, family, loss, survival, crime and punishment, deportation.

88 pages / Reviewed by Donna Burkert, teacher

Suggested Reading Age 7+


Other titles