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The Youngstars [Paperback]

Ursula Jones
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Book Description

23 April 2012

“There was a thud in Ollie’s midriff, as though he had been shot. The boy stared at Ollie, open–mouthed with surprise … and suddenly the boy smiled.”
Ollie knew that smile. He knew the boy’s face. He’d seen it looking at him from countless dressing room mirrors. It was his own smile, his own face. The boy was his double.”
Ollie, the youngest of the troupe, struggles through life with a stammer and a deep desire to become an acrobat (to escape the clutches of The Pig).
Unbeknownst to him, his world is about to be torn apart and re-made by the arrival of movie star, Hal Havern. Meanwhile, Hal Havern’s son, Ralph, and his comrade in arms, Giselle, have jumped a train, are evading the law, and trying to escape a mysterious pursuer who dogs their every step.
The variety troupe, Havern, Ralph and Giselle all descend on the bustling and industrial city of Liverpool, where the troupe are set to give their biggest performance yet. And Olly and Ralph are about to get the shock of their lives…

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Inside Pocket (23 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0956712290
  • ISBN-13: 978-0956712295
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,190,161 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description

About the Author

Ursula Jones has had a long and successful career writing for children. In 2003 she won a gold Smartie Award and in 2008 she was awarded the inaugural Roald Dahl Funny Prize.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The plot (without giving away 'spoilers'): England, 1936, and the young members of a stage group perform their skits in northern theatres - with their evil manager (known as The Pig) hounding them along and taking most of their earnings. It is the worst for Ollie: The Pig is his father, and he gets into the most trouble of the lot... but now the fortune-teller has told him that tomorrow he will meet A Stranger, and surely, that will change his luck? And it does, but which way his luck changes remains to be seen...
A rollicking story of the theatre, poverty, imagination, solid friendships, love and death, doubles and mistaken identities, mysterious pasts; stealing cars, being chased by gun-toting strangers, being lost in big cities; and where do the rich American kid and the French girl come in?

The author: Ursula Jones trained at RADA and is an actress and writer for children: The Witch's children trilogy, for example, which won the 2003 Gold Smartie award and the 2008 Roald Dahl Funny Prize; but also plays for children, and scripts for the TV series Green Claws.

My opinion: rollicking, complicated, messy and pretty enthralling sums it up! Funny and absorbing, too, even if the writing is a bit jerky at times (over-edited?) and some of the similes rather graphical! But the tale, the most important thing of all, drags you along and keeps you entertained, and guessing, all the way; laughing, and sometimes with a tear in your eye. For smart 12-year-olds, and up.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Such a fun read 10 Oct 2012
By Sarah
The Youngstars is set in 1936 and follows a teenage theatre troupe as they tour the country. When they arrive in Liverpool where they are due to give there biggest ever performance, strange things begin to occur.

Ollie is the son of the troupe manager Mr Piggott (known as `The Pig'). Ollie is not close to his father and suffers from a stammer, he is the one member of The Youngstars who really does not enjoy performing. Whilst on the train to Liverpool he spots his double on another train. The double spots him too and aided by a mysterious French girl called Giselle sets off to see if his doppelganger really does exist. What follows is a fantastic and hilarious story that I found gripping to the very end.

This is an action packed book, full of non-stop adventure that had me laughing out loud in places.

A highly recommended book - I am looking forward to reading more from Ursula Jones.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Youngstars 13 Jun 2012
Set in Britain in 1936, The Youngstars by Ursula Jones will take you on a journey with a teenage performing troupe as they have the adventure of a lifetime.But life in the group is hard and Ollie, the youngest, isn't even paid! Soon Ollie concocts a plan to run away, however, he has yet to meet a young boy who will turn his life around.

The Youngstars is an exciting and captivating book, from doubles to dancers, London to laundry this book has everything to keep the reader satisfied throughout every twist and turn of the tale. The characters are diverse and entertaining, and each has their own fascinating background story. Youngstars is an amazing book which I really enjoyed reading. Any child who loves a good story between the age of 9 and 12 will love this great book.

Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The Youngstars is set in 1930s England and is a really exciting and energetic story about a troupe of young performers touring northern theatres.
The evil manager,Mr Piggott, known as 'The Pig' bullies and exploits the Youngstars with small, stammering Ollie suffering the most as 'The Pig' is his father.
Fast paced,comic and tragic, full of intriguing twists and turns together with excellent characterisation, the Youngstars will enthrall readers from 9 to 99!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Plentiful gentle humour. 12 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The proof version supplied for review, contained quite a few historical and geographical errors, but none which affected the enjoyment of the story.

Clearly Ursula Jones has drawn inspiration from Mark Twain's "Prince and the Pauper", for this story about a 1930's pauper who encounters his spoiled rich American double.

The Youngstars are a touring group of impoverished child entertainers, managed by a brutal man they call "the Pig". Pig's son Olly suffers most from his father's violence, and wants to escape.

Despite the tragic setting, this is without doubt a comic adventure. The Younqstars have not shortage of sarcastic remarks to make and tricks to play upon each other. Hazards and scrapes are everywhere for them to contend with. Reminds me in some ways of Terry Pratchett's style.

The writer brings to life her characters with plenty colour. They have have strengths and weaknesses that is easy for the reader to sympathise with. I would have preferred them to have been introduced more gradually though. Perhaps a cast list of them could have been included in the glossary as a helpful reminder.

At over 350 pages this is a long read for a children's fiction novel, but I never felt at any point that it was a chore.

Highly recommended for keen readers aged 11+. Should suit boys and girls equally as well.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but a little complex 12 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It says on the back of the book "reading age 9+". I would put the age group older, because this is basically a farce of a novel - and I mean that in the technical sense. People mistaking people for other people, people looking for other people (and just missing them, of course). It revolves aroud Ollie, a young stage dancer in the 1930's, and Ralph, the son of a Hollywood film star, who look identical. Throw in a cruel father, "The Pig", the other members of the theatrical troup, a man with a gun, the police and the mysterious Giselle Lepman, a self-assured young French girl and you have a recipe for mayhem. As I say, the plot is so twisted it takes a fair bit of following through 360 pages - but it's worth it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good book
Absolutely right up my street. I passed the book onto my sister who loved it as well. Ursula Jones has a pair of new fans. A fantastic novel.
Published 3 months ago by Paul McNamee
4.0 out of 5 stars Finding a copy of yourself would be extra-ordinary.....
Imagine being on a train just looking out of the window, when another train passes and you see yourself looking back at you. Read more
Published on 27 Aug 2012 by Both the Macs
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting story of Music Hall entertainers
The story is set with a Music Hall troup of young entertainers in 1930s England.
Ollie the main character is the son of the manager of their group, he is never praised always... Read more
Published on 28 Jun 2012 by JoMaynard
5.0 out of 5 stars Rollicking adventure for a youngster wanting to stretch their reading
I ordered this book purely because the author has previously been awarded a Roald Dahl Funny Prize. Anything with Road Dahl's name associated with it must be good right?... Read more
Published on 24 Jun 2012 by Max
5.0 out of 5 stars Children's Theatrical Troupe in Big Adventure - Read All About It!
An absolutely ripping yarn, just the kind of adventure story you want to keep reading. It has all the ingredients: two boys with a mysterious connection, a troupe of children who... Read more
Published on 14 Jun 2012 by M. J. Saxton
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommend. Really Enjoyable Read.
This is a really entertaining story with twists and turns, flips and acrobatics and some absolutely wonderful situations and friendships. Read more
Published on 28 May 2012 by debbie8355
3.0 out of 5 stars A theatre story
The Youngstars is an unusual take on theatre stories for children and teenagers - it is a historical novel (set in the 1930s) and the main character is a somewhat reluctant... Read more
Published on 23 May 2012 by elkiedee
5.0 out of 5 stars The Youngstars
The book is set in 1930s Britain - the time of the Depression - and much of the action is centred on Liverpool. Read more
Published on 14 May 2012 by Parents in Touch
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