Review Blog

Aug 15 2017

A cardboard palace by Allayne L. Webster

cover image

Midnight Sun Publishing, 2017. ISBN 9781925227253
(Age: 10-14) Highly recommended. Themes: Poverty, Refugees, Child Labour, Survival. Allayne Webster's A Cardboard Palace is a powerful story giving a voice to the plight of Romany children taken from their parents and forced to work as pickpockets and thieves in Paris. Jorge lives in No Man's Land a shantytown with ramshackle huts made from scavenged materials. It is a life of desperation and poverty. His controller Bill forces his gang of six girls and four boys to steal from the tourists and locals, at ATMs, in the Louvre, and on the Metro Stations. The children are quick-witted, cunning and fast, taught the tricks of the trade by the villainous Bill.
Jorge is torn between obeying this man and trying to protect his friends. There is a moral dilemma and he wants his voice to be heard. While Abel keeps some of the money he steals to buy food, Jorge keeps nothing for himself. Camp life is confronting, a sick child disappears, trafficked children are locked up and twelve-year-old girls sold as child brides to older men. Their parents keen to receive the dowry money.
When Jorge scavenges in a dumpster behind a cafe, he meets Sticky Ricky an Australian chef who befriends him, feeds him leftovers and takes up the fight to free these children from the gang. There are tense scenes as the special taskforce moves in to evacuate the children and the Catacombs setting where friends save the day.
A Cardboard Palace is a modern Oliver Twist story, where one boy's courage, resilience and determination shine through. Allayne Webster's Parisienne setting shows a different reality, one of poverty and hardship. The light and shade of the narrative, the emotional resonance of Jorge's voice and her honesty in portraying these deeper issues, make this a novel suited to more mature readers. In Year 7 and 8 students engaging with this literary text, can discuss the ethical dilemmas presented and the interpersonal relationships of the characters. (ACARA)
Rhyllis Bignell

Archived Blog Entries
Latest News
CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals 2018
National Book Award winners 2017
Speech Pathology Book of the Year Awards 2017
YABBA Awards 2017
Teens' top 10
2017 Man Booker Prize
Australian Family Therapists' Award for Children's Literature 2017 winners
2017 Children's Peace Literature Award Short List
Inkys Awards 2017
2017 Miles Franklin Literary Award
2017 NSW Premier's History Awards
The Queensland Literary Awards 2017

ReadPlus Features
Print similar authors bookmark
Read similar authors
How to find lesson plans
Sample theme animation

Promote Reading
Staff holiday reading list 2017
South Australian Christian Schools Conference 2016 - Library Displays
Display calendars
Value of School Libraries
Library, Reading development and the Internet
Free Rights of the Reader Poster
Reviews: Author index
Bookmark and poster templates