Pratcher mixes humor, adventure and historical fiction to create an entertaining, intelligent story. When I first began reading the novel, I was immediately struck by how Dickens-like it was. The fictional names alone scream out Dickens: Dodger, Simplicity, Mrs. Sharples (sometimes pronounced Sharp Balls), etc. Then Charles Dickens was revealed as a character (he's first introduced simply as "Charlie"). Thennnnn I learn that Dodger is actually based on the Artful Dodger, a character from Dickens' Oliver Twist, which I didn't know because I haven't read that book yet. So yeah, that's why the book seems very Dickens.
Being historical fiction, the book also features a great number of "real" characters: Henry Mayhew, Angela Burdett-Coutts, Benjamin Disraeli, Robert Peel, and John Tenniel. Even Sweeney Todd of urban legend/literary/musical fame makes a notable appearance.
Overall, even if the reader does not understand the historical and literary connections, the novel is a great read...for boys AND girls.