The Thieving Collectors of Fine Children's BooksFeatured
But he only steals books from the Garden Grove Library that are old, musty, brittle, or incomplete, like his favorite book, The Timekeeper's Children. No one reads anymore, and surely no one will miss them, right? Wrong.
The Pribbles are famous inventors of the most popular toy in the world, alternate-reality goggles. They are also book collectors who are searching for The Timekeeper's Children, so the Pribbles hatch a plan. They invite Oliver, the last person to have checked it out, to their mansion and use special software from their goggles to steal the last remaining copy of the book--from inside Oliver's mind.
Now, Oliver is thrust into the middle of the story and must help the main characters steal pieces scattered around the fictional world of Dulum to build a magical clock that can turn back time before the evil sorcerer Sigil takes over. They'll encounter hideous giants, bloodsucking bats, vicious eels, a Nasty Rodent Eater, a gang of wicked children, and a strange, dark figure that follows them from chapter to chapter, all the while with the Pribbles in pursuit.
Can Oliver save Dulum before Sigil destroys everything? And will he finish The Timekeeper's Children before the Pribbles steal it from his mind?
Written in the 1980s and having sold few copies, this tale of adventure is one of Mr. Pribble's favorites, and he wants to program the tale into the goggles. As Oliver advances through the tale, he meets Jack and Cora, the children of the timekeeper, who are on a quest to steal the crown of the King of Dulum and deliver it to a villain called Sigil. They hope to use their father's clock to turn back time and save their mother. In order to do so, they must work with the narrator, a creature named the Nasty Rodent Eater, and work their way through the story with the Pribbles hot on their trail. They also are shadowed by a mysterious figure whom they find out is the author of the story! They must face bats, eels, the Gang of Impervious Children, and figure out a riddle in order to get to the end of the book. But what is the end? Since Oliver doesn't remember, he needs to figure out what the best ending is for Jack and Cora.
I sometimes find fantasy hard going, and the intricate, interwoven plots were sometimes hard for me to follow, but these will enthrall fantasy readers who would dearly love to read The Swordflinger Saga if they were a real books. Oliver's love of literature is great to see, and his story is one that young readers can imagine themselves into. The Pribbles are delightful villains who are just quirky enough to be interesting and dangerous rather than annoying. The technology of the Entertainment Goggles is fascinating, and also makes a great point about imagination, and how the lure of constantly being connected to a phone or electronic device is damaging the ability of many children to enjoy books and use their imagination.
The Thieving Collectors of Fine Children's Books is a great choice for readers who have a good background in high fantasy books like McMann's The Unwanteds or Anderson's The Dungeoneers, but also for those who enjoy a story-within-a-story novel, such as O'Donnell's Homerooms and Hall Passes, or McKay's The Last Dragon Charmer series. There are several mentions of one of my favorite books as well: Mary Norton's The Borrowers (1952). Perhaps readers will be encouraged to pick up that series when they are finished, but I hope they check it out of the library instead of stealing it!
What left me wanting more: Oliver has stolen books from the library, but he always takes ones that are less well-loved and that no one really would wish to, but that leaves him sometimes, like in the case of this book not know how the book ends cause the pages are missing. The missing pages leave us guessing how the book is supposed to end, and we wanted to learn more about what Oliver's imagination can cook up to save the day. I would like to see more of how the Pribble's changed once they realized the error of their ways at the end of the book.
Final Verdict: The thieving collectors of fine children's book contains all the correct elements for a fantastic middle-grade novel. The characters are all well developed and thought out. The villains are cruel and mean but get their just deserts and a chance to redeem themselves. Oliver learns that his imagination can help in a pinch, and the author shines in the uniqueness of the various characters sprinkled throughout the story.