Review - The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke Listening Library, 2002 Review by Su Terry Apr 29th 2003 (Volume 7, Issue 18)
Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke has been favorably compared to Harry Potter.
It is the delightful tale of two orphan boys who runaway from their aunt to
live in "the magical world" of Venice.
Thief Lord is set in contemporary Venice. Two orphan brothers, 12-year old
Prospero and 5-year old Boniface, have runaway from their aunt and uncle who
live in Hamburg. They travel to Venice that is the magical place that their
mother told them about, but for two orphans with no money Venice can prove to
be anything but magical. Soon after arriving, Prosper and Bo meet a group of
street urchins- the scholarly Hornet, the street wise Mosca and Riccio, and the
mysterious "Thief Lord" Scipio. Except for Scipio, the children live
in an abandoned movie theater and cover their expenses with the money they
raise from selling the stolen goods that the Thief Lord brings to them. The
children sell their purloined loot to the very unscrupulous "red-beard"
Barbarossa. As the story opens, Prosper and Bo's aunt, Esther Hartlieb and her
husband have hired Victor Getz, a likeable detective to find the boys.
Actually, Esther is only interested in finding the "angelic" Bo. His
older brother, if found, would be placed in a boarding school. It was, in fact
this soon to be enforced separation of the brothers that was their primary
reason for running away. Meanwhile, Barbarossa tells the children that he has a
very rich client, the Conte, who is interested in hiring the Thief Lord to
steal an object. He hints that the fee for the theft would be substantial. The
usually confident Thief Lord is unnerved by the request for his services, but
the children appeal to his bravado and he relents. The aged Conte meets the
Thief Lord in the confessional of a church in order to protect his identity and
the two agree to the theft. The fee, indeed, is substantial especially in light
of the fact that all the Comte wants the Thief Lord to steal is a very ordinary
looking wooden wing. The wing, however, is reputed to be part of a magical
merry-go-round that once belonged to the Merciful Sisters, but which has long
since vanished. Meanwhile Victor Getz is hot on the heels of the brothers.
Thief Lord reminds me of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist updated and
moved to Venice. While the book has been compared to Harry Potter, it was
really hard for me not to keep comparing the book to Dickens. There is the band
of streetwise urchins "picking a pocket or two" and living off of
stolen goods. There is the miserly Barbarossa living off his ill-gotten gain
from the children. There is the young innocent(s) Prosper and Bo learning the
ropes at the school of hard knocks, but never meant for life on the street.
There is the "Thief Lord" Scipio, ringleader of the erstwhile band.
Then there is Ida, the beautiful rich woman who owns the wing, part love
interest, part substitute mother, part sister in crime. The only real addition
is Victor Getz, the adorable detective with a pension for disguises, a heart of
gold and two lovesick turtle.
"Cornelia Funke is a
bestselling author and the third most popular children's book writer in Germany
after J.K. Rowling and R.L. Stine. The Thief Lord has won several
European children's literature awards, including the Zurich Children's Book
Awards (2000) and the children's Book Award form the Vienna House of Literature
(2001)." Following on the success of The
Thief Lord the author will soon release an English translation of her 1997
book entitled Drachenreiter ("Dragon Rider" - TBA).
Simon Jones has appeared in the
films The Devil's Own, Twelve Monkeys, For
Love or Money, Green Card, Brazil, Monty
Python's Meaning of Life and Miracle on 34th Street. His
television appearances include a role in The Cosby Mysteriesand Murder She Wrote. He
has been featured on Broadway in The Real Thing, Benefactors,
and Private Lives. Jones' narration of The Thief Lord was nominated for the ALSC 2003 Notable Children's
Recordings and Winner of the 2002 AudioFile Earphones Award.
Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke is an enchanting tale of runaway orphans,
horrid stepparents, bumbling detectives, a charming thief, and magical
merry-go-round. As one reviewer wrote, "The Thief Lord will steal
your heart away." He will indeed along with Victor, Prospero, Bo, and all
the rest. Jones does a wonderful job with the children's voices and as for
Victor, he all but jumps off the tape right into your car or living room. This
is an excellent audiotape. This book is rated "Ages 9-12". I highly
Su Terry: Education:
B.A. in History from Sacred Heart University, M.L.S. in Library Science from
Southern Connecticut State College, M.R.S. in Religious Studies/Pastoral
Counseling from Fairfield University, a M.Div. in Professional Ministry from
New Brunswick Theological Seminary, a Certificate in Spirituality/Spiritual
Direction from Sacred Heart University. She is a Licensed Minister of the
United Church of Christ and an Assistant Professor in Library Science at
Dowling College, Long Island, NY. Interests in Mental Health: She is interested
in the interplay between psychology, biology, and mysticism. Her current area
of research is in the impact of hormonal fluctuation in female Christian
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