Industrial-Sized Deals TextBTS15 Shop Women's Fall Denim Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon Rob Thomas Storm Fire TV Stick Subscribe & Save Find the Best Purina Pro Plan for Your Pet Shop Popular Services Home Theater Setup Plumbing Services Assembly Services Shop all furious7 furious7 furious7  Amazon Echo Fire HD 6 Kindle Voyage Assassin's Creed Syndicate Big Savings in the Amazon Fall Sportsman Event Deal of the Day
City of Orphans and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
  • List Price: $17.99
  • Save: $3.78 (21%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Only 10 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by
Gift-wrap available.
City of Orphans has been added to your Cart
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Used book in good condition. Thank you for looking at this book. There is a name/writing on the first page but no other writing or highlighting. Outside edge is a little dirty. There is just a little wear on the cover.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

City of Orphans Hardcover – September 6, 2011

50 customer reviews

See all 5 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$1.99 $0.01
Audio CD
"Please retry"

The Last Ever After
The Last Ever After
In the stunning conclusion to the bestselling School for Good and Evil trilogy, everything old is new again, as Sophie and Agatha fight the past as well as the present to find the perfect end to their fairy tale. Hardcover | Kindle book
$14.21 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Only 10 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

City of Orphans + Crispin: The Cross of Lead (2003 John Newbery Medal Winner) + Crispin: The End of Time (Crispin (Balzer & Bray))
Price for all three: $42.85

Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews


Written by Avi and Illustrated by Greg Ruth
(Atheneum; ISBN: 9781416971023; September 2011; Fall Catalog page 51)

“An immigrant family tries to survive crime, poverty and corruption in 1893 New York City. Earning enough money to cover the rent and basic needs in this year of economic panic is an endless struggle for every member of the family. Every penny counts, even the eight cents daily profit 13-year-old Maks earns by selling newspapers. Maks also must cope with violent attacks by a street gang and its vicious leader, who in turn is being manipulated by someone even more powerful. Now Maks’ sister has been wrongly arrested for stealing a watch at her job in the glamorous Waldorf Hotel and is in the notorious Tombs prison awaiting trial. How will they prove her innocence? Maks finds help and friendship from Willa, a homeless street urchin, and Bartleby Donck, an eccentric lawyer. Avi’s vivid recreation of the sights and sounds of that time and place is spot on, masterfully weaving accurate historical details with Maks’ experiences as he encounters the city of sunshine and shadow. An omniscient narrator speaks directly to readers, establishing an immediacy that allows them to feel the characters’ fears and worries and hopes. Heroic deeds, narrow escapes, dastardly villains, amazing coincidences and a family rich in love and hope are all part of an intricate and endlessly entertaining adventure. Terrific!”

-- Kirkus July 15, 2011 *STAR

City of Orphans.
Avi (Author) , Ruth, Greg (Illustrator)
Sep 2011. 368 p. Simon & Schuster/Richard Jackson, hardcover, $16.99. (9781416971023).

Dickensian street action comes to New York’s Lower East Side in this gripping story, set in 1893, of
newsboy Maks, 13, who feels “hungry twenty-five hours a day.” After rescuing a filthy, homeless girl,
Willa, Maks takes her to the crowded tenement he shares with his struggling Danish immigrant family.
Pursued by Bruno, the leader of the Plug Ugly street gang, Maks is desperate to save his sister, Emma,
who was imprisoned after being falsely accused of stealing a watch from the Waldorf Hotel, where she
worked as a cleaner. Just as compelling as the fast-moving plot’s twists and turns is the story’s social
realism, brought home by the contrasts between the overcrowded, unsanitary slums (“No water, gas,
electricity”) and the luxurious Waldorf. Then there are the unspeakable conditions in prison, where, even
as a prisoner, Emma must pay for food. Avi writes in an immediate, third-person, present-tense voice,
mostly from Maks’ colloquial viewpoint (“He’s full of heartache, but no one is seeing it”), with occasional
switches to Willa and to the desperate young gangster leader. Threading together the drama are tense
mysteries: Is Willa really an orphan? Who stole the watch? Pair this riveting historical novel with Linda
Granfield’s 97 Orchard Street, New York: Stories of Immigrant Life (2001), a nonfiction account of Lower
East Side tenements.

--Booklist, August 1, 2011, *STAR

City of Orphans
Avi, illus. by Greg Ruth. S&S/Atheneum/Jackson, $16.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-4169-7102-3

Thirteen-year-old Maks Geless, the oldest son of Danish immigrants, makes eight cents a day hawking The World on Manhattan street corners in 1893. Newbery Medalist Avi tells his story in a vibrant, unsophisticated, present-tense voice (a typical chapter begins, “Okay, now it’s the next day—Tuesday”), and it’s a hard life. Maks’s sister Agnes has TB, the shoe factory where Agnes and Mr. Geless work is suspending operations, and the grocer and landlord want their accounts paid. Then Maks’s oldest sister, Emma, is accused of stealing from a guest at the Waldorf Hotel, where she is a maid. Amid this strife, the good-hearted Gelesses take in Willa, a homeless girl who saved Maks from a street gang. Maks and Willa must prove Emma’s innocence, with the help of an odd, possibly dying detective (he’s coughing up blood, too). The contrasts among Maks’s family’s squalid tenement existence; Emma’s incarceration in the Tombs, the city’s infamous prison; and the splendor of the Waldorf bring a stark portrait of 19th-century society to a terrifically exciting read, with Ruth’s fine pencil portraits adding to the overall appeal. Ages 10–14. (Sept.)

--Publishers Weekly, August 22, 2011, *STAR

"Narrating in the present tense, Avi attempts a colloquial, first-person “Lemme tell you how it was” style not normally found in books for middle graders. The opening, which describes Maks so vividly you feel that he’s standing right in front of you, strikes the kind of friendly note bound to draw in the average reader. 'Now, this Maks, he’s regular height for a 13-year-old, ruddy-faced, shaggy brown hair, always wearing a cloth cap, canvas jacket and trousers, plus decent boots.' In short, he’s a 'newsie'…honest-to-goodness historical mysteries are hard to find, and Avi doles out his clues carefully, allowing children the chance to feel smart if they put two and two together."

-- The New York Times Book Review

"Like the intricate inner workings of a fine gold watch from a bygone era, Avi crafts a not-to-be-missed mystery/thriller yarn featuring a colorful cast of mugs and swells and set amidst the opulence and the poverty of nineteenth century Manhattan."

Richie's Picks

About the Author

Avi is the author of more than fifty books for children and young adults, including the 2003 Newbery medal winner Crispin: The Cross of Lead. He has won two Newbery Honors and many other awards for his fiction. He lives with his family in Denver, Colorado. Visit him at

Greg Ruth has published work for The New York Times, DC Comics, Paradox Press, Fantagraphics Books, and more. His books for children include Our Enduring Spirit by President Barack Obama and A Pirate’s Guide to First Grade by James Preller. Greg lives and works in Western Massachusetts.

See all Editorial Reviews

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Lexile Measure: 570L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books; First Edition edition (September 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416971025
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416971023
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.3 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #913,395 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

More info at and
Avi is part of a family of writers extending back into the 19th century. Born in 1937 and raised in New York City, Avi was educated in local schools, before going to the Midwest and then back to NYC to complete his education. Starting out as a playwright--while working for many years as a librarian--he began writing books for young people when the first of his kids came along.

His first book was Things That Sometimes Happen, published in 1970, and recently reissued. Since then he has published seventy books. Winner of many awards, including the 2003 Newbery award for Crispin: the Cross of Lead (Hyperion), two Newbery Honors, two Horn Book awards, and an O'Dell award, as well as many children's choice awards, he frequently travels to schools around the country to talk to his readers.

Among his most popular books are Crispin: The Cross of Lead, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Nothing but the Truth, the Poppy books, Midnight Magic, and The Fighting Ground.

In 2008 he published The Seer of Shadows (HarperCollins), A Beginning a Muddle and an End (Harcourt), Hard Gold (Hyperion) and Not Seeing is Believing, a one-act play in the collection, Acting Out (Simon and Schuster). Crispin: the End of Time, the third in the Newbery Award-winning series, was published in 2010. City of Orphans was released in 2011, receiving a number of starred reviews. Learn more at Follow Avi on Facebook,, where he shares an inside look at his writing process.

Avi lives in Denver, Colorado, with his wife and family.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J.Prather TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 24, 2011
Format: Hardcover
City of Orphans is a great read, and is perfect for upper elementary and middle grade students. Avi proves once again that he is a master storyteller as he spins the tale of Maks, a 13 year old immigrant living in New York in the 1890's. He is a character that is easy to cheer for, and I felt like I knew him pretty much from the very beginning. His dialogue, and that of his friend Willa, just leaps off the page and draws the reader fully into a story that is steeped in atmosphere. The author paints a thorough and exacting portrait of what life was like during this time, not only for adults, but also for kids. Young readers will be amazed to learn that Maks works all day selling newspapers for 8 cents a day, while Willa picks rags at the dump for 10 cents a week and lives on the street.

I wondered for quite a while where exactly this story was going. The author had created such a vibrant setting and such warm, engaging characters that I wasn't too concerned about it though, as I was just enjoying the scenery. The characters and setting are that strong.

This was a time when the police weren't always the good guys, and people were often guilty until proven innocent or until they could bribe the right person. When Maks sister is arrested for theft and taken to the Tombs, the story shifts from a period piece focusing on character, to a mystery. Maks sets out to become a boy detective and with Willa's help, they seek to discover the real perpetrator of the theft and free Maks sister from prison.

The language is colorful, the dialogue authentic, and the atmosphere simply captivating. The mystery is intriguing and will keep readers glued to the very end when they will experience an ending that is surprisingly violent.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By E Martin Slack on October 2, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was an amazing story. It begins a little slow, but it quickly picks up to become the best of the best!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By angela mitchell on April 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I am a teacher and this book was recommended as a favorite by one of my 7th grade students. I decided to buy it for bedtime reading for my own boys (Grades 3 and 4). I was so interested in the story, I had to finish the entire book myself in one day. I am still reading it aloud to the boys however, and my husband now stops whatever he is doing at bedtime to hear the story as well. He is particularly interested in all of the wonderful and accurate historical descriptions of life in 1893 New York City. It is fun to talk to our children about the value of money and to discuss how difficult life was for children in this time period. A wonderful book... great for all ages!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Teacherrates on February 26, 2013
Format: Paperback
Please understand that all my reviews focus on the interests of my middle school students. I never do a full plot synopsis in a review.

This is one of those books that is frustrating for me. From my own point of view, the book rates an easy 5 stars. Unfortunately, it has a flaw for average MS readers.

First, Avi proves his worth again at building believable, knowable, and complete characters. Even the minor characters are given pizzaz. As for setting, as a period novel, I have to use the word incredible. You get the feel for late nineteenth century NYC so completely that visualization is automatic. (The scene where Maks encounters an elevator for the first time would by itself almost make the book worth reading!) I also always appreciate a book that has strong male and female main characters. Trust me, you will fall for Maks and Willa; you will feel their pain (and joy) and be moved by Willa's transition from orphan to sister/daughter. ("But then Willa says to him, 'Where am I supposed to go now?' That time Maks can speak. 'Home,' he says. And Willa gives Maks the most grateful look that ever was grateful.") Maks is twelve and Willa just a bit younger.

Avi uses at least two narrators, both third person. When you are with Maks or Willa, you usually get the narrator thats "talks" with slang and vernacular. When with adults, the narrator becomes more standard issue. Avi is always great with voice.

The flaw in the book is the plot's pace. I love it when my students read books I've liked and we can share thoughts. With this book, it's hard for me to get kids to the part where the mystery begins and the plot quickens. It does become a page turner then, I assure you. But if I can't get them to stick with it, well, it's frustrating.

If you read and like this book, I strongly recommend Matthew Kirby's The Clockwork Three as a follow-up. It is set a bit earlier in the same century.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By DGBrew on July 14, 2013
Format: Paperback
I'm an 8th grader and had to read this book to complete our YHB contest.The worst book of the lot. not enough description, no rising action, no falling action, and a terrible climax for that matter. It was overly predictable and a disappointment for what i had in mind for it. Bad guys get beat, sister in jail, of course, gets out, sick sister gets better and marries that hopeful boarder. Predictable, predictable, predictable. It's cliche and an overdone kind of plot. If it had been properly executed then it would have been at least good. Never would i consider it great and not even good. The description was simple and made me wonder if this was a 3rd grader's book. yes, it was that simple. Nothing bad happened. they all become friends, and, i understand that this author tried to "transport" us, but all he did made me resent his work. Shortest review for it would be: for the simpleton mind set, predictable, and happy ever after. Also, in no way would the older sister trust her younger brother with everything. It didn't make sense in the end. just, simple, predictable, poorly executed, not a good read. I would not recommend this book unless for the age range of 3rd-5th grade. Also, i read hundreds of books a year and this one is a close competitor to the worst book i've ever had to read.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
City of Orphans
This item: City of Orphans
Price: $14.21
Ships from and sold by

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Want to discover more products? Check out this page to see more: stories of homeless teens