As long as the gangs are fictional, since I’m a coward at heart. But don’t you agree that there is something magical about little street urchins ganging up and solving mysteries and generally doing great things?
Two long-standing favourites are Philip Pullman’s stories about the New Cut Gang. I first read them years ago, and now the lovely David Fickling has produced a new one volume collector’s piece, with a great cover by Martin Brown. I especially like the spine, and from now on I will just stand there, staring lovingly at the spine on the shelf.
The cynic will say that while Philip doesn’t come up with a new book, someone will have to go back to the old ones and re-issue them. But good ones are always welcome a second time, so I don’t mind. (Although, do get on with Dust!!)
What especially pleases me is that girls are equals in the NCG. Probably fiercer than the boys, actually, which is as it should be. In Thunderbolt’s Waxwork the gang have to sort out who is spreading fake coins, because it certainly isn’t Thunderbolt’s father. And in The Gas-Fitters’ Ball we have not only courage, but romance as well, and a walk-on part for the Prince of Wales (older model).
I believe that Philip almost promised us another New Cut Gang story, in that interview six years ago. I’m starting to despair. But while I wait, there is this new book to enjoy. And a spine to admire.