In my quest to eventually read all the books published in the Bloomsbury Ex Libris series, I read A Kid For Two Farthings in the fall. Somehow, after the reading the book, I never took the opportunity to review it. So, here goes, what I remember of my impressions.
A Kid For Two Farthings is the story of Joe, a six-year-old boy growing up in Whitechapel, who finds a unicorn at a market and buys it, believing it will grant all his wishes and those of his family: a steam press for the tailor shop located in his home, a ring for the engagement of one of the workers in the shop, and a chance to see his father again, who is currently located in Africa.
Heartwarming and heartbreaking all at once, this 128-page story can be read as a children’s tale of fantasy, dreams, and reality, but also tackles those subjects in a different manner for a more adult reader. As the story sheds light on the difficult circumstances in which Joe, his family, and his friends, live, it also reflects on the inability of dreams providing rescue from the situation at hand, while simultaneously it portrays a respect for childhood innocence and naivety that is very moving. The book was filled with quirky humour, and it was hard not to feel love for all of the characters. In particular, Mr Kadinsky seemed like that perfect elderly person to have in a child’s life, while Joe’s enthousiasm and care is heartwarming to read about. Can we just say I wanted to give this book one giant hug? It certainly wasn’t perfect, and I may have loved The Brontës Went to Woolworths more, but it was wonderful and charming storytelling nonetheless.