cover image THE THIEF LORD


Cornelia Funke, , read by Simon Jones. . Listening Library, $28 (, unabridged, five cassettes, 8.5 hours, $28 ISBN p) ISBN 978-0-8072-0976-9

Jones's (The Devil's Own; Brideshead Revisited) deep, sonorous voice and British accent set the perfect mood for German author Funke's adventurous tale of orphans on the run in Venice. Though set in modern-day Italy, Funke's story could comfortably sit alongside Oliver Twist and Peter Pan; she incorporates elements from both these timeless works as she introduces brothers Prosper and Bo and their cohorts. Having run away from their cruel aunt and guardian (who wants to adopt only younger brother Bo), Prosper and Bo find themselves in the alleys and canals of Venice, a city their deceased mother spoke of with adoration. The boys find shelter, sustenance and camaraderie via a band of child thieves, led by a bold adolescent who calls himself the Thief Lord. Intrigue, suspense and humor abound as the boys outwit, then befriend, a local detective and a wealthy dowager all on the way to discovering a merry-go-round with magical powers. Funke leaves a few loose ends dangling, but most listeners won't mind as Jones reads at a good clip, catching them up in the excitement of the children's exploits and the colorful surroundings. Simultaneous release with Scholastic/Chicken House hardcover. Ages 9-up. (Oct.)