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February 16, 2008

The Thief Lord

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The Thief Lord

Author: Cornelia Funke

Page Length:  349 (including a brief Italian glossary)

Reading Level: 5


PLOT SUMMARY: The Thief Lord is a magical story set in Venice. Prosper and Bo were orphaned by the death of their parents and sent to live with their aunt and uncle. Unfortunately, their aunt and uncle think children are decorative and should behave as little adults. They decide to keep the younger golden haired angelic looking child, Bo; but, they desire to send the older boy, Prosper, away to boarding school. Determined to stay together, the boys run away to Venice, the city their mother had always told them fantastic tales about.  In Venice, Prosper and Bo join a family of runaways holed up in an abandoned theater and provided for by a by who calls himself, The Thief Lord. Scipio, The Thief Lord, magically appears with expensive items the children trade to a greedy underhanded shop owner for cash. The children have food and some semblance of warmth thanks to the gracious Thief Lord. However, Victor, the detective hired by their aunt, is hot on their trail.


One day, Barbarossa, the thrift shop owner, tells them of a client who will pay handsomely for the Thief Lord’s services. The kids embark on an adventure to steal a wooden wing. Their escapades lead them on many adventures. They come to befriend Ida Spavento and Victor the detective. Both Ida and Victor become involved in the quest to discover why the old man desires the wing and if the magical merry go round of the Merciful Sisters (known to make one young or old) actually exists. Intermingled amongst the story of the book are the struggles of the children. Their sadness at being homeless echoes throughout the book, but so does their bond and love for one another.


REVIEW: The book explores the themes of homelessness and survival. Readers realize how much Prosper, still a child himself, takes on the fatherly role to care for his younger brother. We meet, Hornet, a young girl with a love for books who reads to her “family” and soothes them in times of need. Scipio, the thief and provider of the group, has his own complicated family issues. The book really drives home the need for children to feel loved and valued. Funke reveals all to well that money does indeed not buy happiness.


This story develops nicely with surprising plot twists and turns. I found it to be a little a slow in the beginning however the last two-thirds of the book was much more engaging. This book would lead to some excellent discussions about life, love, and the pursuit of youth. Cornelia Funke is great about posing what if questions and exploring fantastical possibilities that seem almost possible.  I really enjoyed reading the story and would recommend it to my students (perhaps even more so the boys than the girls).




MOVIE CONNECTIONS: This book was made into a movie in 2006.


RELATED WEBSITES: (Venice website) 


REVIEWED BY: Dayna Taylor



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