The Adventures of the New Cut Gang is set in Lambeth in 1894. The gang is led by Benny Kaminsky who is eleven. Other members are Thunderbolt Dobney, who belies his name by being mild and scholarly, "red haired and red tempered" Bridie Malone, her little brother, Sharky, and the fearsome Peretti twins, Angela and Zerlina, who, although looking like little angels, "when they were roused were worse than African Sam, whose temper was legendary". The New Cut Gang have a strong sense of natural justice and seek to right wrongs and take appropriate revenge on bullies and evildoers. They are resourceful and funny. This volume contains two of their adventures.
Philip Pullman's Lambeth feels as real as Dickens' London and the New Cut Gang are completely at home in their community. They are not modern children plonked down in an "historical" setting. The stories feel authentically Victorian.
Before children learn to read independently there is often a huge gap between what they can read and what they want to read. At this point parents, elder siblings, grandparents or any available adult, are dragooned into reading stories aloud. This can become tedious. However, these stories are great fun and will amuse adult readers as well as their audiences. They will also encourage children to take that leap into independent reading. Having said that, Pullman never patronises his readers by going into lengthy explanations of words or references they might not understand, thus slowing the action. This means that there will be things that the average young reader will not know, but this is no bad thing as it will encourage them to ask and will stretch their imaginations.
What age group are they suitable for? Seven years and upwards, I would think, but younger siblings would probably also enjoy listening to them.