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This title in other editions

Other titles in the Cronus Chronicles Trilogy series:

The Shadow Thieves


The Shadow Thieves Cover

ISBN13: 9781416905882
ISBN10: 141690588x
Condition: Standard
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Reading Group Guide

A Reading Guide to THE SHADOW THIEVES By Anne Ursu


Charlotte and Zee uncover a mystery that is causing all of their friends to become seriously ill. Their quest for the cure leads them to a not-so-mythical Underworld, where they face rhyme-loving Harpies, gods having problems with their personnel, and ghosts with a thirst for blood. They discover on their journey that the fate of every person — living and dead — is in their young hands. In her dazzling debut for young readers Anne Ursu weaves a tale of myth and adventure, danger, and magic that will keep readers engrossed until the very last secret is revealed.


Anne Ursu was raised in Minnesota and currently lives in Cleveland, Ohio, with her husband, son and cats. The Shadow Thieves is the first in a trilogy. For more information, visit


What do you know about the Greek myths? Why do you think these stories have been passed down for thousands of years? What is the underworld in mythology? Who presides over it?


1. Describe Charlotte, both her physical appearance and her personality. How does she get along with her parents? Her peers? Would you be her friend? How would she fit in at your school? What are her strengths and weaknesses?

2. Why is Zee sent to his cousin's house? How do kids from Charlotte's school treat him? Why? Is his presence good for Charlotte? Why? How does their friendship develop over the course of the novel?

3. Where is the door to the Underworld? Why do you think the author picked this location? Who is the Messenger? Who are the men in the tuxedos?

4. How is Hades portrayed in this modern story? How have things changed in the Underworld since its beginning? What does this inspire Philonecron to attempt?

5. What is Zee's relationship with his grandmother? What do grandparents offer that parents can't? What is your own best memory with a grandparent? How does Zachary seem to expand and open up only when he's with his grandmother?

6. Why don't Zee's parents believe he has anything to do with the sudden illness? Would your parents believe you? What would you do?

7. What is the Piper Flu? Who is getting it? What is really happening? Why are they attacking children only?

8. How does Charlotte describe Mr. Metos? How is he involved in the story? What happens to him? Why is he destined to be a part of the story?

9. Are you familiar with the original Greek myths? How does this affect your reading of the text? How does Ursu play with the original characters and settings of the myths? Which original myth is your favorite? Why?

10. Reread page 311, which describes Zee bringing the army to life. What does Zee feel for the first time in his life? How can power corrupt and control people? Do you think power is more important or more intoxicating than fame? How are fame and power connected? Why do people become obsessed with these things?

11. Explain the major events in the Underworld. What happens to Philonecron and his army? Which scene is your favorite? Why? In the end, how do some things remain the same there?

12. The novel is peppered with a wide cast of mythological beasts. Which one is your favorite? Why? Does this novel inspire you to read the original myths as well?


Create a map of the Underworld. Use as many details from the book as you can, and don't forget to add in the beasts.

Fill out the following character charts as you read.

The Mortals:

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

crowyhead, April 16, 2007 (view all comments by crowyhead)
When children in their town start falling mysteriously ill, Charlotte and her cousin Zee uncover a plot to take over the Underworld using the children's stolen shadows.

I really wanted to like this more than I did -- it was witty, and creative, and I enjoyed it, but it didn't quite have the spark to win me over completely. Despite the length of the book, the characters aren't developed all that well, and it just feels a little flat. It's supposedly the first book in a series, but I'm not sure where the author plans to go next with it.
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Product Details

Ursu, Anne
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Fortune, Eric
Fortune, Eric
Family - General
Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Magic
Legends, Myths, & Fables - Greek & Roman
Action & Adventure - General
Fantasy & Magic
Children s-Science Fiction and Fantasy
Edition Description:
Cronus Chronicles Trilogy
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
from 3 up to 7
f-c cvr
7.62 x 5.12 in 10.465 oz
Age Level:

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Related Subjects

Children's » Action and Adventure » Adventure Stories
Children's » Fables
Children's » Middle Readers » General
Children's » Science Fiction and Fantasy » General

The Shadow Thieves Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.95 In Stock
Product details 432 pages Aladdin Paperbacks - English 9781416905882 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

For a good vacation read, try Shadow Thieves. Anne Ursu's somewhat dark, mythological thriller is the first in the Cronus Chronicles, so if you enjoy it, there's more to look forward to. Ursu's work dances between humor, gothic suspense, and family values: if Charlotte and Zee do everything their parents say to do, then who will save the world?

"Synopsis" by , Conflict: In the end: Charlotte


Grandmother Winter

Mr. Metos

The Immortals: Description/Powers Important because.. In the endÉ Philonecron





The Harpies like to rewrite nursery rhymes to reflect their more modern tastes. Rewrite a nursery rhyme or tune for another of the Underworld's beasts. Common tunes include "Mary Had a Little Lamb," "Frére Jacques," or "London Bridge."

Art: Design the costumes for a movie adaptation of the novel. Sketch garments and choose colors and fabrics.

Or choose a scene to design instead. You can sketch, paint, or use the computer to create your setting.

"Synopsis" by , Something extraordinary is about to happen to Charlotte Mielswetzski.

It's not the very cute kitten that appears out of nowhere. It's not the arrival of her cousin Zee, who believes he's the cause of a mysterious sickness that has struck his friends back in England. And it's not the white-faced, yellow-eyed men in tuxedos who follow Charlotte everywhere. What's so extraordinary is not any one of these things. It's all of them.

When Charlotte's friends start to get sick, Charlotte and Zee set out to find a cure. Their quest leads them to a not-so-mythical Underworld, where they face Harpies that love to rhyme, gods with personnel problems, and ghosts with a thirst for blood.

Charlotte and Zee learn that in a world overrun by Nightmares, Pain, and Death, the really dangerous character is a guy named Phil. And then they discover that the fate of every person — living and dead — is in their hands.

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