Cornelia Funke does a wonderful job of telling the amazing story of Proper and Bo, orphans who have escaped to Venice, Italy based on their late mother's fantastical descriptions of the city. Luckily, before Bo and Prosper freeze or starve to death, an already formed band of street children take them in and allow them to live with them in an abandoned movie theatre. Prosper and Bo soon learn that these children are cared for by a child close to their own age who calls himself "The Thief Lord." Between the forgotten items of tourists and the Thief Lord's grand theft adventures, the children believe they are quite well off, that is until they discover the Thief Lord has been keeping a very interesting secret from all of them.
Between dodging a detective their cold-hearted aunt has sent looking for them, trying to survive in the city while staying out of trouble, and discovering the Thief Lord's secret, Propser and Bo embark on an amazing adventure that changes the course of their future.
Cornelia Funke does an amazing job describing Venice in such extravagent detail that readers feel like they're there! The imagery provided brings the story to life, capturing readers of all ages. The characters are lovable and believable making readers want to invite them all into their homes by the end of the novel.
Funke focuses on the importance of family, illustrating that this doesn't always mean blood-relatives. Also, the lines between right and wrong are blurred based on the issue of survival which could provoke some interesting classroom discussion. Moral values and dilemmas are often presented in non-judgemental ways which allow readers to empathize with the characters as they struggle to choose between right and wrong. Italian vocabulary is given throughout the novel and defined in the back, giving readers an excellent opportunity to enrich their knowledge of a different culture.