Synopses & Reviews
Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes
is the utterly beguiling tale of a ten-year-old blind orphan who has been schooled in a life of thievery. One fateful afternoon, he steals a box from a mysterious traveling haberdasher—a box that contains three pairs of magical eyes. When he tries the first pair, he is instantly transported to a hidden island where he is presented with a special quest: to travel to the dangerous Vanished Kingdom and rescue a people in need. Along with his loyal sidekick—a knight who has been turned into an unfortunate combination of horse and cat—and the magic eyes, he embarks on an unforgettable, swashbuckling adventure to discover his true destiny.
Praise for Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes
“Auxier has a jugglers dexterity with prose that makes this fantastical tale quicken the senses.”
"Harrowing and comical escapades abound....Funke delights readers in the feelings of childhood, what it feels like to be innocent, afraid, curious, and safe; need friends and love; and want independence yet also to be cared for. Although the core of this tale is heartwarming, the merry-go-round...hints at darkness, leaving its riders and the novel's readers changed forever." Kirkus Reviews
"What is shocking in the case of The Thief Lord...is that the book lives up to the audacious claim. It's got the magic, the adventure, the awkward boy heroes and the plucky chick sidekick....But Thief Lord is also just a darn good yarn..." Alice Stroup, Newsweek
"Wacky characters bring energy to this translation of an entertaining German novel....[The novel] abounds with colorful characters. The Venetian setting is ripe for mystery and the city's alleys and canals ratchet up the suspense in the chase scenes." Publishers Weekly
"Funke brings together a large but not indigestible array of adults and children....It's a compelling tale, rich in ingenious twists, with a setting and cast that will linger in readers' memories." School Library Journal
"The action rolls along in short chapters, each illustrated with a small pen-and-ink illustration of a locale in Venice. The vocabulary is somewhat demanding, with Italian words thrown in for atmosphere, but some YAs will certainly enjoy this challenge." KLIATT
"The Thief Lord will steal your imagination as it delivers clever twists and turns throughout." Audiofile
The story opens with a solitary bachelor detective, Victor, accepting a commission to find two runaway brothers: Prosper, the older boy (who is not wanted); and Boniface, or Bo, who looks like an angel and is therefore dear to his childless (and humorless) aunt. The brothers have run away to Venice to avoid being separated and are living with a gang of thieving orphans presided over by the boyish, cocky Thief Lord. As Victor's sympathies begin to shift from the aunt to the brothers, the gang of thieves becomes entangled in a caper that involves stealing a wooden wing from a carved lion-the missing piece of a carousel that magically turns old people young again and makes children grow to adults in an instant. The problem is not the wing's owner, artist Ida Spavento-she actually helps them, provided she can follow along to discover where the wing will be taken. The real complication is the Thief Lord, whose identity turns out to be smaller-than-life and whose attraction to the magic of the carousel draws the gang into further danger. The story moves at a slow pace, lingering in explanatory dialogue and descriptions of Venice, but the idiosyncrasy and resonance of the central carousel image create a potent, continental atmosphere that laces the tale with a bit of excitement. In the course of pursuing the carousel's mystery, Victor and Ida and the brothers fob off Prosper and Bo's aunt with the kind of child she really wants and band together as a new kind of family-a sweet and comforting conclusion that will satisfy readers whose hearts have been touched by the loyalty and courage of the two brothers and the rewarded generosity of their new foster parents.--Horn Book, November/December 2002
Orphaned brothers Prosper and Bo have ditched their guardian aunt (who's only willing to adopt the charming, younger Bo) and have fled to Venice, where they come under the dubious protection of a teen who carries off daring thefts by night and herds a small band of street gamins by day. The gang of the 'Thief Lord' is more than willing to assist their leader in his midnight heists, but he seems reluctant to bring them along on any actual jobs, and readers will probably figure out long before Prosper and Bo do that the young criminal is actually a rich kid pilfering his parents' goodies. He does, however, get them involved in a plan to help reconstruct--for unimaginable wealth, of course--a magical merry-go-round stolen years ago from an orphanage. Trailed by a gumshoe looking for the siblings, and most improbably befriended by a would-be burglary victim, the children dodge their way through a hailstorm of transparent subplots to reach their respective happy endings. Readers undaunted by page count can find Funke's themes developed more thrillingly elsewhere-in Dickens' Oliver Twist and in Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes. This comparatively lightweight (in content, not ounces) romp has its moments, however, and the social joys of joining what promises to be a heavily hyped Reading Event may well carry the day.--Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, November 2002
There are shards of wonderful stories in this ambitious narrative, but they don't quite cohere into a shimmering whole. That said, this is still a pretty nifty adventure set as brilliantly in its Venetian setting as a baroque pearl. Twelve-year-old Prosper and five-year-old Boniface cling to the stories their mother told them of Venice, with its winged lions and rooftop angels. After her death, they run away from Hamburg and their pinch-faced relatives to Venice, where a motley crew of children, living in an abandoned movie theatre, takes them in. The leader is Scipio, the Thief Lord, who directs the petty thievery and acts as older brother to the group. Victor, a gentle detective, has been hired to find the brothers, and he does so quickly, but is bemused by their ragtag family and is loathe to hand them over to the aunt. Funke begu
The Shakespeare Stealer
2000-2001 Mark Twain Award
1999 ALA Best Book for Young Adults
1999 ALA Notable Childrens Book
1999 NCSS-CBC Notable Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies
1999 Crickets Choice
1999 Reading Circle of Missouri State Teachers Association selection/Grades 5-8
1999 Heartland Award for Excellence in YA Literature
1998-1999 Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award Master List
1998 Golden Kite Award Shortlist
1998 VOYAs Books in the Middle Oustanding Title of 1998
1998 CCBBC Choices
1998 Best Childrens Books/Bank Street College Ages 12-up
2001 ALA Best Book for Young Adults
2001 New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age List
2001 Parents Guide to Childrens Media Awards
2000 Smithsonian Magazine Notable Childrens Book
2004 CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young Readers
The Year of the Hangman
2002 ALA Notable Book
2002 School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
Around the World in 100 Days
2010 Best Books for Teens by Kirkus Book Reviews
2010 Smithsonian's Notable Books for Children
"A thrilling look at the 19th-century age of automata—“a time of curiosity-seekers”—and the riveting story of a likable Philadelphia boy whose life of the mind helps him transcend his extraordinary, oft-cruel circumstances." - Kirkus Reviews
, starred review
* "The museum and curiosity show setting—as well as the cameo appearances by Edgar Allan Poe and P. T. Barnum—make this historical novel a delight." - VOYA, starred review
"The layered narrative should appeal to history buffs, gadget lovers, and fans of The Invention of Hugo Cabret." - Publishers Weekly
"Readers will no doubt find [Rufus] a compelling protagonist and likable hero....the Dickensian cast of characters and tightly constructed plot will resonate with fans of Laura Amy Schlitzs Splendors and Glooms." - School Library Journal
"Blackwood excels in writing historical fiction that is as informative as it is entertaining. The period details, including cameos by famous people, bring the era to life, but its the vivid characters and the inventive plot, told through Rufuss sympathetic first-person narrative, that drive our interest in the story." - The Horn Book
"With a cast of fictional and historical figures including grand showman P. T. Barnum; Edgar Allan Poe and his teenage wife, Virginia; and the real-life owner of the Turk, Maelzel—this Dickensian coming-of-age story from the author of Around the World in 100 Days offers a glimpse into quaint corner of American history." - Booklist
"Blackwood constructs a plot with appeal to several readerships: the gearheads who enjoy the mechanical workings of these robotic oddities, à la Selznicks The Invention of Hugo Cabret; those who shiver at the possibility of life force within the machine, à la Schlitzs Splendors and Glooms; those who gravitate toward plucky orphan stories; and of course, those who appreciate a solid historical fiction riff on a real-life invention, the Turk itself. Rufus self-effacing narration is thoroughly engaging." - Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Gary Blackwood's The Shakespeare Stealer was the winner of the Mark Twain Award. It was also an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, an ALA Notable Childrens Book, a Golden Kite Award Shortlist Book, a CCBBC Choice, and one of the Best Childrens Books for ages 12 and up as chosen by Bank Street College.
An exciting, magical adventure set among the crumbling canals and ancient ruins of Venice, Italy.
Prosper and Bo are orphans on the run from their cruel aunt and uncle. The brothers decide to hide out in Venice, where they meet a mysterious character who calls himself the "Thief Lord." Brilliant and charismatic, the Thief Lord leads a ring of street children who dabble in petty crimes. Prosper and Bo relish being part of this colorful new family. But the Thief Lord has secrets of his own. And soon the boys are thrust into circumstances that will lead them, and readers, to a fantastic, spellbinding conclusion.
Welcome to the magical underworld of Venice, Italy, where hidden canals and crumbling rooftops shelter runaways and children with incredible secrets. Prosper and Bo are orphans on the run from their cruel aunt and uncle. The brothers decide to hide out in Venice, where they meet a mysterious thirteen-year-old boy who calls himself "the Thief Lord." Brilliant and charismatic, the Thief Lord leads a ring of street children who dabble in petty crimes. Prosper and Bo delight in being a part of this colorful new family. Then the Thief Lord invites them on a magical adventure to a land of forgotten mysteries that will change their lives forever, This exciting tale of fun, flight, and freedom is sure to enchant readers and keep them guessing up until a breathtaking finale.
Intrigue, danger, chess, and a real-life hoax combine in this historical novel from the author of The Shakespeare Stealer
Philadelphia, PA, 1835. Rufus, a twelve-year-old chess prodigy, is recruited by a shady showman named Maelzel to secretly operate a mechanical chess player called the Turk. The Turk wows ticket-paying audience members and players, who do not realize that Rufus, the true chess master, is hidden inside the contraption. But Rufuss job working the automaton must be kept secret, and he fears he may never be able to escape his unscrupulous master. And what has happened to the previous operators of the Turk, who seem to disappear as soon as Maelzel no longer needs them? Creeping suspense, plenty of mystery, and cameos from Edgar Allan Poe and P. T. Barnum mark Gary Blackwoods triumphant return to middle grade fiction.
About the Author
Gary Blackwood is a playwright and the author of many books for young readers, including, Curiosity, Mysterious Messages: A history of Codes and Ciphers and Around the World in 100 Days. He is best known for the bestselling Shakespeare Stealer series. He lives in Nova Scotia.