Secret in St. Something

Illustrated by: Richard Williams
For Ages: 8 - 12
  • reading group guide
  • customer reviews
What is the secret?
In a grim tenement district of New York City, before the turn of the century, young Robin decides to take his baby brother, Danny, and escape from his brutal stepfather. Surviving on the street is no easy feat, until he discovers a place called St. Something, and joins up with the tough but loyal street boys who make St. Something their home.
Robin knows he cannot hide forever -- but what he does not know is how many untold secrets lie before him, and how the answers lie with the most unlikely person....
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Book Details:
  • Aladdin | 
  • 160 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780689856013 | 
  • February 2003 | 
  • Grades 4 - 6
List Price $11.95

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One: Robin

Not a flicker of light from a gas lamp, nor even an oil lantern, lit the dank entryway of the tenement building. Nothing, that is, more than the chilling, early-evening light that had to force its way through the grimy sliver of cracked glass set in the door. One flight up the narrow, steep stairs, and Robin found himself swallowed by darkness. Suffocating darkness reeking with the collected smells of rotting wood, clammy stained walls, general filth, and cabbage soup, made by someone lucky enough to have afforded the cabbage to put in it.

To screw up his failing courage, Robin tried to suck in whatever air was... see more

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Reading Group Guide

A GUIDE FOR READING GROUPS
SECRET IN ST. SOMETHING
By Barbara Brooks Wallace
ABOUT THE BOOK
Robin has lost both his parents, and life with his stepfather is brutal. He decides that he must run away and live on the street, but he also must protect his baby brother. Robin becomes a shoeshine boy and discovers a secret which will change life for both of them forever.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
• In this book Robin is shown as part of several families. Before the book begins, he had his parents and at the end of the book he has a new family. What makes a family? Were the shoeshine boys a family when they lived in St. Something?
• Why didn't the boys take money from the poor box? What is a poor box?
• There are some good people and some evil people in this book. Discuss the fact that neither good nor evil are always poor or rich.
• Robin had been afraid of the boys before he got to know them. Why do you think we fear people we don't know? Is it important for people to get to know those who are different from them?
• Who did the boys think was the "landlord" of the church? Why? Do you think this was a good way to think about it?
• Robin was a shoeshine boy. What other ways did people in the book make their living? (Ideas: Rent collector, pawnshop owner, sewer, landlord, janitor.)
ACTIVITIES
• Draw a picture of the tenement where Robin had to collect rent. Rememb see more

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