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Too Much Trouble [Paperback]

Tom Avery
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

2 Jun 2011

"Get out, Emmanuel!" growled my uncle. "Take your brother and go."

But where can two boys go when they're on their own, on the run, with little money or food? All 12-year-old Emmanuel knows is that he has to look after Prince. They were his father's last words to him.

On the train to London, Em and Prince have no idea where they will end up - but then they meet the mysterious Mr Green and his "friends". And that's when things start to spin out of control...

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Product details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children's Books (2 Jun 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847802346
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847802347
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 12.5 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 497,441 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tom Avery was born and raised in London in a very large, very loud family, descendants of the notorious pirate, Henry Avery. He trained as a teacher and has worked with children in inner city schools in London and Birmingham.

In 2010, Tom's debut novel, Too Much Trouble, won the Diverse Voices Book Award. My Brother's Shadow, published in January 2014, is his first story for Andersen Press.

Tom lives in North London with his wife and two sons. He would not cope without them. Tom's wife, Chloe, is an illustrator.

You can find Tom @

Product Description


A gripping story - it really draws the reader in and Emmanuel's determination to do the best for his brother makes him a very sympathetic character. A good read for boys - even those who claim not to like books; get them to try it!

(Parents in Touch)

'This prize-winning story will grab readers' attention from the opening moments and hold them spell-bound from then on' and 'Debut novelist Tom Avery shines real insight on how different some children's lives are in this gripping and deeply moving story.'

(Julia Eccleshare Lovereading)

Recommended summer reading. An original interpretation of the Oliver Twist story reflecting a number of critical and significant contemporary issues. Worthy winner of the 2010 Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Award.


This is an interesting take on the seedy London underworld of deprivation and illegal immigration.

(Irish Examiner)

The novel raises important issues around homelessness and the experiences of children coming to the UK without family support. However, the fast-paced plot takes precedence in the novel, meaning these issues are explored in a way that younger readers can relate to. Complex and challenging themes never overwhelm the story which ends with some resolution and optimism for the futures of the two boys.

(Ibby Link)

This brilliant, shocking story reveals an underworld of all too belieevable horror. Told with simplicity and conviction, the brutality of the boys' ordeal is redeemed by Emmanuel's love for his brother. A wonderful book.

(Bookfest Ireland - Recommended Reading Guide)

Fast-moving ...shows life on the edge of society.


About the Author

Tom Avery grew up in Lewisham and trained as a primary teacher at the University of Greenwich. He taught in South London for two years, and then in inner-city Birmingham. He is now co-ordinator of English, Communication and Language at a primary school in Kentish Town, London. He loves working with young people, helping them to develop their interests and encouraging them to think about the world around them. The issues of street crime and unaccompanied refugee children, addressed in Too Much Trouble, affect the lives of many of the children he's met through his work. Tom lives in North London with his wife and young son.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars read it! 22 May 2011
By mike
This book draws you into a story that in the end you cant put down. It is not only a good read but also enlightens the reader of the pressures and turmoils faced by some inner city children as they settle into a foreign country. It is a story of contrasts -happy family life in Africa and survival in a lonely foreign city. This book paints a modernernised and all too possible Oliver Twist story in a time when we would mistakenly think we have moved on from darkened Victorian Times into a sophisticated and caring society. A book for all ages to read. I highly recommend it.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important subject but such a good read 31 May 2011
I read my pre-order copy of this book in one sitting (ok it's aimed at 12 year-olds and I'm 27, but still!) - it's a gripping story, really skilfully told and with great characters that you feel connected with. It's such an important topic, and one that very rarely gets written about with such sensitivity. I was particularly impressed with how the book deals with violence, which is suggested in a way that's genuinely scary but never sensational, and keeps it suitable for the age-group it's aimed at. Let's put this book on the syllabus for teenagers!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read for children and adults alike 6 Jun 2011
I really enjoyed reading this book. Although the tone is written with children in mind, (I therefore managed to finish the entire novel in one sitting) it was not boring to read as an adult. I particularly enjoyed reading the parallels between the story and the books that the children read. All in all I enjoyed it and I'm sure it would be a great book for adults to read to children so that both can enjoy this fab story!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read 26 May 2011
By J
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Once you start reading this book you won't be able to put it down. It is action packed from the beginning. The storyline keeps you on the edge of your seat.
I am sure this book will have children who don't normally read books hooked. I look forward to the next book written by Tom Avery.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oliver Twist Updated 2 Sep 2011
Unspoken menace stalks almost every chapter of this book. A modern day version of Oliver Twist, it tells the story of brothers Emmanuel and Prince Anatole and deals with the very contemporary issues of child immigration, gun crime and street survival. The brothers find their secure lives suddenly dislocated when violence threatens their African homeland. Their father, who is clearly well respected in his community, decides, without giving them any reason, to send the boys to safety with their Uncle in England. So begins a terrifying fight for survival, alone, often hungry, in a semi-derelict house in which their Uncle grows strange plants. For some time, Emmanuel, who was charged by their father to look after Prince, is successful both at not being noticed and knowing whom to be extra nice to. Then, one fateful day, a chance comment from Prince sets a terrifying chain of events in motion.

The sophistication of the narrative, and the skill with which violence and menace are insinuated but rarely explicated, makes this book suitable for a wide range of readers. Although aimed at 8 - 12 year old boys, it would be enjoyed by older readers and it would also read very well aloud. Challenging questions are prompted in the reader's mind, about honesty, integrity, loyalty, freedom and bonds of family and friendship. Avery demonstrates a clear, sympathetic understanding of children's social hierarchies, the adrenalin rush of committing a successful crime, and the human need to belong, even when the only choice left is belonging to a criminal gang. Or is it the only choice left?

The story ends with hope for Emmanuel and Prince as they find the peace and stability that their badly broken lives crave. Too Much Trouble won the 2010 Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Award - it's hard to believe that such a gripping novel is Avery's first. I can't wait for the next.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly unputdownable 26 Jun 2011
An amazing debut novel that deals with a topical theme in an accessible way. This book got me from the first page and I couldn't put it down until I found out what happened. Told from Emmanuel's viewpoint Tom Avery has authentically captured the voice of a young boy who finds himself in a terrible situation.Em is forced to look after his younger brother even though he can barely look after himself and this book tells the story of how the boys survive in a foreign country living under the radar of the authorities. It's a realistic modern day take on Oliver Twist and gives a real insight into the lives of children in this predicament.
I was utterly captured by Em and really cared about him as he is such a beleivable character. His back story is cleverly woven into the book as he recounts his adventure.
This book was truly unputdownable and I thoroughly recommend it.
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