Excerpt: “Prosper wasn’t homesick – he hadn’t been for a long time, not even at night. This was his home now. The city had welcomed Bo and him like a great gentle animal. It had hidden them in its winding alleys and had enchanted them with its exotic sounds and strange smells. It had even provided them with friends. Prosper didn’t ever want to leave again. Never. He had grown so used to hearing the water smack and slurp against wood and stone.
But what if they had to run again? Just because of that man with the walrus mustache? .. they were all in danger.. the detective would also find the others.. Mosca, Riccio, Hornet, and – Scipio. What if the detective also got onto the trail of the Thief Lord while he searched for Prosper and Bo? A fine thank you that would be to Scipio for taking them under his wing.”
The Thief Lord is an absorbing adventure story set in Venice. Orphaned twelve-year-old Prosper and five-year-old Bonniface (Bo) run away from Hamburg to Venice when they find out that their aunt intends to separate them. They find shelter with a motely crowd of little ruffians who live in an old, abandoned theatre. Their cocky leader, Scipio, who calls himself the Thief Lord, is a mere boy himself, but provides for them by bringing them expensive trinkets to sell.
Things begin to go out of control when the Thief Lord is promised a fabulous sum of money to rob a house. And Prosper’s aunt has a detective (Victor Getz) on their trail. The detective manages to find the runaway boys, but also discovers the true identity of the Thief Lord. The story takes many a twist from there on, and most relationships have to be re-defined. Are Prosper and Bo handed over to their aunt? What happens to the little thieves who are caught red-handed, robbing the wing? Many subplots are woven together, and pages turn faster than you know.
There is real magic as well, as Scipio and Prosper discover, on a secluded island, in the form of a merry-go-round that can turn grown-ups into children and vice versa. Read the book to find out what happens when Scipio decides to take a turn on it! By the time the story ends, everybody has found something to cherish, and Prosper’s heartless aunt too has got just what she sought!
There is adventure, there is suspense, there is mischief, there is magic, and plenty of humour in the situations. The city of Venice comes alive in every page, with its winged lions, guardian angels, canals and alleys. The main characters – the strutting Thief Lord, the pigtailed Hornet, the ‘hedgehog’ Riccio, the snoring Mosca, and angelic Bo are lovable. The disguise-loving detective Victor and the owner of the wooden wing, Ida Spavento, are characters readers will cheer for. Even without the magical merry-go-round, the Thief Lord can enthrall readers of ten and above.
Cornelia Funke is one of the most popular writers of children’s books in Germany. The Thief Lord, her first book, was published in 2000 in German and was a great favourite all over Europe. It has won many European awards like the Zurich Children’s Book Award. The English translation was first published in 2002.Cornelia Funke has also written Inkheart, another delightful fantasy for children.
Published by: The Chicken House (Scholastic Inc), 2002
Price: Rs 295/-