This is the mischievous and touching story of 10-year-old Little Crumb. His poverty-stricken mother gave him up for adoption shortly after his birth. His father moved to the United States to try his luck there. Together with his dog Moor, Little Crumb leads an adventurous life on the streets. With his humor, his lust for life, and his perseverance, he is able to bend the world to his will.
The film is based on the popular Dutch children’s book by Chris van Abkoude. In a Dutch port in 1921 lives a 10-year-old orphan boy known to everyone simply as Little Crumb (Ruud Feltkamp). His poverty-stricken mother Lize van Dien (Thekla Reuten), filled with shame, was forced to turn him over to Mrs. Koster (Sacha Bulthuis) soon after he was born. Foster mother Mrs. Koster, who has cared for him since he was a baby, is very poor too, unable to support him by herself, and proves to be a cruel taskmaster who insists that Crumb bring her money before she'll feed him. Somehow, he must earn his keep out on the streets and can only go home after he has earned enough money. Crumb becomes an urchin, stealing from the streets’ barrows and shops to stay alive, sleeping in churches, or huddled in doorways. Sometimes, he has to run off from the police and he has earned the enmity of most grownups around him. A stray dog becomes his constant companion. One day, Mrs. Koster dies and on her deathbed, she gives Little Crumb a locket containing the photographs of his parents. From this moment on, the boy keeps the locket with him wherever he goes. Wilkes the greengrocer (Hugo Haenen) knows the street gang all too well and decides to take Crumb in to live with him. To Crumb’s surprise, Wilkes develops a soft spot for him. Wilkes is working on a book about the adventures he had with his childhood friend. When he shows the boy a photograph of this friend, Little Crumb is shocked to see that this young man is none other than the man in the photograph in his locket: his father. His name, he learns, is Harry Volker and he went to America as a gold prospector a good ten years ago to earn his fortune. Crumb is happy living with Wilkes but his joy is short-lived when Wilkes’s market is destroyed in a fire. The boy is once again without a guardian and is sent to an orphanage presided over by a mean-spirited man. Life there is far from a bed of roses, but at least Little Crumb can live hoping one day his father will come back to claim him. Meanwhile, Wilkes sets out to look for Harry Volkes, and his mother has changed her name to Vera di Borboni and become a famous pianist. Will the future hold something better in store for him than a life on the streets?